Immigrant children expected to arrive at Fort Sill by the weekend

Hundreds of federal workers will provide care for the children, adding $1.2 million to the Lawton, Oklahoma, economy in first 30 days of the program, city officials say.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: June 13, 2014
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photo - Between 600 and 1,200 unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, will be housed in this building on Fort Sill. The building, built in 1986, has 20 sleeping bays that hold 60 beds each. The building was last occupied by soldiers in April. Photo courtesy Fort Sill Public Affairs.
Between 600 and 1,200 unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, will be housed in this building on Fort Sill. The building, built in 1986, has 20 sleeping bays that hold 60 beds each. The building was last occupied by soldiers in April. Photo courtesy Fort Sill Public Affairs.

With details still scarce about a humanitarian mission that will bring hundreds of immigrant children to Fort Sill temporarily, the community is preparing for an influx of federal workers who will care for the children.

An estimated 600 to 1,200 children are expected to arrive by bus at Fort Sill by the weekend after being caught at the U.S. border while fleeing Central American countries. Workers will try to reunite the children with their families or find them a sponsor.

To handle the more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border since October, the government said it will open short-term shelters at Fort Sill and in California and Texas.

Federal employees will be brought to Lawton at a ratio of one to every two children — meaning at least 300 workers — and possibly 600 — are expected to flood the community in the coming days, filling hotels and rental houses, city officials say. While the children will be housed on fort grounds, the workers will not.

Open not quite three months, the Hilton Garden Inn, with its sliding frosted glass doors and modern lobby, will be home away from home for many of the workers.

“Business has doubled since yesterday,” front desk supervisor Dusty Tracy said Thursday between calls.


by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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