Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Visits Ft. Sill Facility Caring For Unaccompanied Minors From Other Countries
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin held a press conference today (Friday June 20) to discuss her tour into the facility on Fort Sill that is currently housing 600 unaccompanied minors from other countries.
The children were primarily apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the southern U.S. border and are now being cared for by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
The ages of the children range from 12 to17 years old and 125 more children are expected to arrive at the facility today (June 20). The number will eventually climb to 1,200 children and the facility is contracted to remain open for 120 days.
After the time is up arrangements will be made to take the children to their families, a sponsor, another facility or to go through deportation proceedings. Governor Fallin believes that even though the contract is only for 120 days, it could be extended for a longer period of time.
Fallin noted that if a family member or sponsor could not be found, the children will not be placed in the State's foster system, but either a federal foster care system or placed to go through deportation proceedings. If a child turns 18 while in the facility federal deportation proceedings will be made.
During her tour and observations, Fallin noted that the children are healthy and are being properly taken care of. All children have a bed to sleep in, medical care, counseling services, good food and outdoor and indoor facilities to play and socialize.
Fallin notes that during her visit she witnessed some of the children playing the game 'Twister' and noted that they seemed to be in good spirits.
The Department of Health Human Services (HHS) has attempted to contact the Lawton Police Department to provide extra security as more children come to the Ft. Sill facility.
When the children are found they are screened and evaluated on their health status before being transported to the facility. The screening process takes three days. If a child is found to have a cold or strep throat, then the proper medical care is given before they arrive. If the children have a highly infectious/deadly disease then they are transported to a federally run medical facility to receive care.
Governor Fallin has expressed to the HHS to allow media to come to the facility so the Oklahoma people can see for themselves that the children are being taken of and that they are in humane and good living conditions.