LAWTON, Okla. – A Congressman from Oklahoma has created an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which focuses on a controversial issue surrounding an Oklahoma base.
Rep. Tom Cole proposed an amendment to the act on the House floor on Wednesday.
The amendment focuses on the “inappropriate use of military bases” for housing illegal unaccompanied minors.
He said, “In recent weeks, there have been many news accounts reporting that we have had an explosion of unaccompanied juveniles coming and crossing our borders largely from Central America, from the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. This population has overwhelmed the facilities that normally house people that have entered our country illegally, and military facilities have now been used—pressed into service—to deal with this population. In full disclosure, one of those facilities happens to be in my district—Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, the home of the field artillery. But other facilities have also been used; at Ventura, at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, in the state of Washington and still others are being considered.”
Cole added that he is concerned the facilities are not equipped to handle that particular population and illegal immigrants shouldn’t be led on to a military base.
Also, he says he is concerned it will cost the Department of Defense money during a time when the budget is tight.
Cole stressed he is also worried the facilities could be used as permanent fixtures for illegal immigrants.
“We’re essentially incentivizing the flow of this population by not returning the unaccompanied juveniles to their countries of origin quickly. Indeed, once they arrive in the United States, we try to find sponsors for them in this country, and they effectively stay here permanently. That’s not what we do, by the way, with Mexican juveniles. If you’re a 16-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, we return you immediately, and we’ve had no similar spike in that particular population coming across the border. What we’re doing may appear to be humane to the juveniles in question; it’s actually not. First, we’re disrupting the countries from which they come; we are destabilizing those populations by incentivizing this flow. Second, these young people don’t just walk across Mexico. They’re transported by cartels. It’s criminals—the same people that bring drugs into our country—and they’re making an enormous amount of money, and we’re strengthening them by incentivizing this flow. Finally, the young people themselves are at enormous risk during the process of transportation. They’re being brought across the length of a country—Mexico—in the company of criminal elements—very unsavory elements—and they’re very much at risk,” he said.
Cole says the immigrants should simply be returned to their countries, which he believes would stop the flow of illegals across the border and remove the incentive to come to the United States.