HHS Releases Current Number Of Undocumented Children In Oklahoma

Friday, August 29th 2014, 7:11 pm
By: News 9

Hundreds of undocumented children left Ft. Sill two weeks ago, but many remain in Oklahoma. Today, we have the numbers released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

In total, H.H.S. has record of over 37,000 unaccompanied children now in the care of family or sponsors.

Members of one organization in Oklahoma are relieved the children are back in the family unit but some concerns continue.

While a humanitarian crisis was ongoing at the Mexico/U.S. border, Oklahoma's Ft. Sill served as an emergency shelter, housing up to 1,200 unaccompanied immigrant children.

Catholic Charities Senior Director Sonny Wilkinson saw the influx of children as a call to action, spending weeks helping to determine a future for the kids.

"The primary goal of Ft. Sill and the other detention centers was to reunite these immigrant children with family members here in the states," Wilkinson said.

Now, that's a reality, and, to Wilkinson's knowledge, each child is in a stable situation.

"I can't say for certain that happened, but that's what we were told," Wilkinson said.

8/4/2014 Related Story: Fort Sill Shelter For Immigrant Minors To Be Suspended

We do know the children's locations based on numbers just released by H.H.S.

Texas leads with over 5,200 undocumented children residing with family or sponsors, but Oklahoma remains among the pack with other surrounding states. Kansas and Arkansas both accommodate just over 200 each, just shy of the 241 here in Oklahoma.

As for the state's two largest counties, 97 undocumented children are in Oklahoma County, 74 in Tulsa County.

"That's not saying getting them away from that situation they are off the radar and are lost," said Wilkinson. "They all have cases and have all been filed."

Those cases are what concern Wilkinson. Fearing individuals will take advantage of the children and the families while they proceed with a long and complex deportation process.

"Our goal is to make sure they interact with that judicial system and understand what's in front of them and can interface with that," Wilkinson said.

8/20/2014 Related Story: Officials Say Fort Sill Boosted Oklahoma Business

The outcome of those cases are unpredictable, because some of the children might be able to stay. Wilkinson said his charity will aid those families through the process.

It is Catholic Charities understanding the federal government's lease with Ft. Sill is through January, leaving open the possibility of kids returning.

So, the charity remains on standby to help at the Army post.