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Oklahoma Congressman Denied Access To Fort Sill Unaccompanied Minor Facility [OP-ED]

photo from the office of Jim Bridenstine

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine, was recently denied access to the Fort Sill Human Health Services (HHS) facility that is caring for unaccompanied minors of foreign countries.

Bridenstine attempted to go on an unannounced visit to the facility on July 1, where security denied him access stating that they were not taking any visitors that day. At that point the security called the facility manager and told Bridenstine that an appointment for the congressman to visit the facility could be made and the earliest time would be July 21.

“There is no excuse for denying a federal representative from Oklahoma access to a federal facility in Oklahoma where unaccompanied children are being held,” Bridenstine said.

"A new fence has been erected by HHS, completely surrounding the barracks and covered with material to totally obscure the view.  Every gate is chained closed."

First off, the congressman was not denied access completely, if he was, then they would not have offered to make an appointment, the HHS facility manager would have just said “Sorry, you do not have access to the facility.”

Like most places, it is nice to have an appointment made before visiting, like a doctor, a lawyer, it’s even good practice to schedule a time to hang out with friends beforehand. I’m sure even Bridenstine won’t visit the people that voted him into office, whom he serves, without an appointment.

Due to the nature of the situation, I am sure HHS does not want these kids exposed as political weapons for the visiting politicians entering the facility.

Governor Mary Fallin has done that already, in fact that was what she opened with on her press conference at the Lawton Constitution on June 20, by making a political attack on the border policies. After her rant on that, it was all about the children.

Although I agree that our border policies do need to be reinforced we need to rethink our priorities. These are just kids – not weapons in a game of power.

“After my visit today with the base commander, I approached the barracks where the children are housed.  A new fence has been erected by HHS, completely surrounding the barracks and covered with material to totally obscure the view.  Every gate is chained closed.” Bridenstine said in a statement.

Bridenstine also went on to state that he was a former Navy pilot who has been involved with operations to counter human trafficking. I’m sure during those operations, the congressman was also ordered to keep the victims identities a secret for their own safety in the operations during his time of service.

So really it’s not much different. Creating the walls and fences for the people you saved in the depths of your mind, like the fences HHS has built to protect these kids.

Later, he took to social media site Twitter asking the question ‘What are they hiding?’

HHS is not hiding anything congressman, they are protecting minors from being exploited from people and their personal agenda that a few would just pass off as ‘citizen journalism.’

HHS staff are simply following procedures you would find being enforced in any foster care facility or hospital even; protecting the kids and the patients from unnecessary exploitation of any kind, yes that means political as well.

Now why did they not allow him in when he asked? Maybe HHS wants to make sure the children haven’t developed an infectious disease of some kind during their stay so that the congressman can enter without risk of spreading an infection. Perhaps they want to make sure the kids will be safe during the visit as well as Bridenstine himself.

I believe that if this congressman truly cared about the kids of this facility, he would have called first rather than just randomly drop in for a visit.

NEXT: Governor Mary Fallin Visits HHS Facility On Fort Sill

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