Controversial Plan To House Children Who Are In The Country Illegally At Fort Sill

Monday, June 9th 2014, 10:16 pm
By: News 9

Questions remained unanswered late Monday over what will come of more than 600 illegal juvenile immigrants on their way to Oklahoma from Texas and Arizona.

Federal officials said the children, who could be living at Ft. Sill for up to four months, could be at the post as early as Tuesday morning.

"As far as the financial [impact], it's putting more [of a] burden here," Lawton resident Cedric Lax said.

Lax's frustration is similar to that of other area residents' frustrations. Many people in Lawton told News 9 they believe the transfer is a sad situation for the children and American taxpayers.

"I think we should have a heads up of what's going to happen," said Lawton resident Melissa Pollastro.

Governor Mary Fallin estimated the fort will eventually hold up to 1,200 illegal minors. The total number of the children crossing the U.S. border is expected to nearly double over the next year, according to federal officials.

"We don't have the answers to the questions; we know that Oklahoma will be over burdened if these children should be released into Oklahoma," Fallin told News 9.

Immigration authorities said most of the children, ages 12 to 17, escaped dangerous situations in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

It's an emotional situation paired with the frustration of unanswered questions. Concerns over living conditions and questions over who will provide education have also been raised by area residents and Oklahoma politicians.

Officials with Lawton Public Schools told News 9 they have been in contact with federal officials at Ft. Sill. The school district said it was given no direction on what role, if any, teachers will play in the children's education. Ft. Sill public information officers would not provide comment late Monday.

The Department of Defense said the children being transferred to Oklahoma were caught crossing into the United States without their parents.

What the future holds for the minors after their time on the post is unclear. Congressman Tom Cole told News 9 the cost could hit $260 per minor, per day. That bill is expected to be picked up by the Department of Health and Human Services.