State Leaders Question Immigration Shelter At Fort Sill

Monday, June 9th 2014, 8:00 pm
By: News 9

More than 600 illegal minors could be coming to Fort Sill for temporary housing this week.

The Department of Defense says these children were caught crossing the southern border by themselves and are currently being held at bases in Texas and California.

The Governor says she was barely given any notice about the arrival of hundreds of illegal minors from Central America coming to Oklahoma or how they are expected to stay on base for up to four months.

"We don't have the answers to the questions, we know that Oklahoma will be overburdened if these children should be released into Oklahoma," Fallin said."But what we do know is that president Obama has failed to secure the southern border of the United States, and we're seeing thousands of illegal immigrant children."

Fort Sill in Lawton is expected to house anywhere from 600 to 1,200 illegal minors starting as early as Tuesday. The group is mainly coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which are experiencing rising levels of violence.

"It is alarming that we're going to be having 1,200 children who are going to be staying on a military installation, which is for military purposes, and coming under who knows what type of conditions," said Fallin. "They're going to be have all kinds of health needs, education needs, certainly language barriers."

Congressman Tom Cole calls the plan a breakdown that incentives illegal immigration.

"We don't do this by the way with Mexicans, if we have unaccompanied Mexican juveniles. They are immediately returned to Mexico by right of expedited return," said Cole.

"We're basically assisting these cartels. We're the last leg of the operation, families are paying to get their kids to the U.S. they meet with a border patrol agent, who doesn't send them to detention facilities since they are minors."

Cole says the group is largely made up of 13 to 17 year-olds, and he was told it could cost up to $260 per minor per day that they are housed at Fort Sill. This will be funded through the Department of Health and Human services, which will shift money from other accounts and is requesting more money now.

"We're not sending these unaccompanied minors home, and in less you do that, the flow is just never going to stop, and some of these bases that are being used, we run the risk, I think, of them becoming permanent facilities though the Department of Defense assures that won't happen," Cole said.

The number of illegal minors is expected to rise to 66,000 this year. The Department of Defense says among the latest influx are growing numbers of girls and children under 12. Many are said escaping abuse and some to seek to reunite with their families in the U.S.

"We certainly want to be conscientious, we need to treat them humanely, but there also is a great concern for what's going to happen to them after they've been here for a while," Fallin said.