The Department of Homeland Security expects as many as 60,000 unaccompanied child immigrants will illegally enter the United States in the coming year.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole says he's disappointed Fort Sill will house about 600 of those unaccompanied minors. The six-term Republican's Fourth Congressional District includes the Lawton military installation.
Cole says the Obama Administration failed to provide timely notification to the state's congressional delegation and state and local officials that it would use troop housing as a juvenile detention center.
"I have no doubt that the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and the command and soldiers at Fort Sill will execute any order they are given or task they are assigned professionally and humanely,” Cole said in a statement. “I am equally confident that the Lawton community will do whatever it can to support the soldiers at Fort Sill as they go about discharging the duties which they have been assigned.”
Fort Sill could begin housing the juveniles as early as Tuesday. Cole called it an "inappropriate use of military facilities" that would strain military resources.
“I am concerned that what begins as an emergency measure could, over time, evolve into a permanent juvenile detention center for those who have entered the country illegally, Cole said. "It is rumored that the Administration intends to house those juveniles detained at Fort Sill with family members already in this country or through our foster care system. That, to me, is de facto amnesty.”
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