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Obama administration wants to place 5,000 more unaccompanied minors on U.S. military bases and extend their stays

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole criticizes request, which may mean more children at Fort Sill in his district for longer than the 120 days first approved.
by Chris Casteel Published: July 10, 2014


photo - 
The barracks at Fort Sill in Lawton where more than 1,000 immigrant minors are housed. Children sleep in dorms, participate in activities, and do school work in the building. 
  PROVIDED
The barracks at Fort Sill in Lawton where more than 1,000 immigrant minors are housed. Children sleep in dorms, participate in activities, and do school work in the building. PROVIDED

Faced with an unrelenting stream of children crossing the southern U.S. border, the Obama administration wants to greatly expand the number of unaccompanied immigrant minors housed at domestic military bases and extend the time they can stay there.

The Department of Health and Human Services has asked the Defense Department for the authority to house another 5,000 children on bases, in addition to the roughly 3,000 or already being sheltered at three bases, including Fort Sill, according to Capitol Hill sources.

It was not clear Thursday evening whether Fort Sill would gain more children — or even continue housing children past October when the first authority expires.

The U.S. Army post — which conducts artillery training — currently has nearly 1,200 children, mostly teenagers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell seemed to indicate Thursday afternoon that Fort Sill’s involvement would continue.

At a Senate hearing, she was asked specifically about Fort Sill. After first explaining that her department would rather have new permanent facilities than continue using temporary ones, she said, “Right now, with the Department of Defense, we had 120 days. We’ve renewed that for additional days.”


More on the children being housed at Fort Sill:

Fort Sill media tour comes with heavy restrictions

Coburn says it was illegal to bar Bridenstine from Fort Sill facility housing minors

White House seeks $3.7B for border crisis

Cole: White House not telling truth about illegal minors


Critics of housing children at military bases warned last month that it wouldn’t end after 120 days. The administration now is seeking space on bases through January.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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