LAWTON, Okla. – For the first time we know what it looks like inside the barracks at Ft. Sill holding hundreds of undocumented children from Central America.
Kevin Ogle was one of the reporters making the first tour by the media today at the post.
They wouldn’t allow recording devices inside the barracks. They also wouldn’t let Kevin talk to the children or ask questions of the staff.
But here’s what he saw.
The areas of the living facility were clean and bright and comfortable.
The children, teens and preteens seemed happy.
One or two smiled and whispered hola as I walked by, (the Spanish word for hello.)
Some were watching Disney movies, others were outside playing soccer.
Kevin even saw some young teen girls dancing to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
The Children are primarily from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – where drug violence and child smuggling are rampant.
Case workers are working to place the children with a family member or a family friend or an American sponsor, Kevin said.
If that fails, the child will be deported back to their home country.
As for keeping cameras out of the living facility, the Department of Health and Human Services says there’s a good reason the kids’ faces are being protected right now.
“Children in these shelters are especially vulnerable. They may have histories of abuse or may be seeking safety from threats of violence. They may have been trafficked or smuggled. Allowing images or recordings to be taken of these children could divulge their identities and compromise their safety.”
Some of them are already gone.
Since June 14th, over 500 have been transferred out of Ft. Sill to family members or sponsors.
The U.S. law allows minors from Mexico to be deported almost immediately. Children from countries not bordering the U.S., like those mentioned earlier, have added legal protections.