Immigrant Children to Leave Fort Sill by Friday

Aug 4, 2014

Rep. Jim Bridenstine trying to gain access to HHS housing facility at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma on July 1, 2014.

Federal authorities say unaccompanied immigrant children housed at Fort Sill are expected to leave the Army post by Friday.

Kenneth Wolfe of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press on Monday the agency can move children from military barracks because it has expanded the capacity of traditional shelters. Wolfe said standard shelters are significantly less expensive to operate.

The agency also says the demand for military shelters was reduced because of a drop in the number of children crossing the nation's southwest border.

In a letter last Monday to President Barack Obama, Gov. Mary Fallin complained that Oklahoma taxpayers are being forced to subsidize the costs for education and health care for children who are placed with sponsors in Oklahoma.

The vacant barracks for U.S. Army troops have been housing up to 1,200 mostly teenagers from Central America who were caught trying to enter the country illegally since June.

Wolfe says military facilities in California and Texas should wrap up work within two to eight weeks. The three shelters have housed 7,700 immigrant children since May.

The agency says another surge of unaccompanied children could press the bases into service again.