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Congressman tours Ft. Sill housing facility

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FORT SILL, Okla._A Congressman who has been fighting for more transparency at the Fort Sill shelter housing more than 1100 undocumented children, toured the facility for the first time on Saturday. Congressman Jim Bridenstine's visit Saturday afternoon comes after he made national headlines on July 1st, when he was turned away at the gates of the Fort Sill shelter after showing up unannounced.  

His tour Saturday was previously scheduled, and he spoke afterward on the condition of the facility and our nation's ongoing immigration problems. After the tour, he says he is still left asking so many questions.

"It's has been trying to get answers on these tough issues has been like pulling teeth," said Bridenstine.

Before today, it has been hard getting a tour for the Congressman, something he said shouldn't have been a problem to begin with.

"I think any member of Congress that is a federal representative of the people, especially someone who has oversight jurisdiction should have access to federal property where there's a federal mission happening," said Bridenstine.

Now, Republicans are fearing this federal mission will be expanded as President Obama has submitted a request for 3.7 billion dollars, nearly half of that money is to care for the current children in shelters like at Fort Sill. Bridenstine believes that the contract to use that facility until October 10th will not be extended.

As for the cash President Obama is asking for, Republicans disagree.  Bridenstine said that soon, Republicans will have an alternative plan they will present to the President.

However, both sides, Bridenstine said, agree on the root of the problem.  

"That we need to secure the border, and they understand that people down in central america know that if they come here they are not going to get in, and that if they get in they cannot stay," said Bridenstine.

Bridenstine worked in counter drug operations in Central and South America 2 years ago. He says the condition hasn't changed in the countries these kids are coming from. 

"Crime is bad there, poverty is bad there. It's bad now, and it was bad 2 years ago," he continued, "The only difference is now there is this systematic plan in place where as long as we have an open border and everybody is saying hey come here you can stay, it creates this demand," said Bridenstine

A demand he says is very high, a demand to come to America. More families are using drug trafficking gangs, or other dangerous groups to send their child to the US which isn't helping.  

"This has created a situation where human trafficking and human suffering is ensuing," said Bridenstine

As of yesterday, 622 children have been released from the Fort Sill shelter. Bridenstine worries about what happens after their release.

"Where have they been released to? Who has custody of these children?" said Bridenstine.

Some of the family members they are being released to in the US are illegal immigrants themselves, he said. Bridenstine offered his own opinion on how this situation should be handled.

"We should reunite them with their families back in their home country," said Bridenstine.

The Congressman applauded the Lawton-Fort sill community for,  in his words, handled that facility being in our community splendidly. He says that he plans to return to the facility, and does not expect more problems with getting a tour of the facility whenever he desires


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