Update: Fort Sill opens illegal immigrant shelter to media, but with limited access

UPDATE: 6:21 p.m. 7/10/2014

A KFOR crew just finished touring the facility at Ft. Sill. Kevin Ogle reports at any given time there are between 1,000 to 1,200 kids at the Oklahoma facility.

He says since June 14 more than 550 children have been processed out to family members or U.S. sponsors.

The Children are being screened for physical and mental health issues. If they are sick they are quarantined or offered mental health services if necessary. All of the children living at Fort Sill are over the age of 14.

So far there are 215 case workers trying to get them with family members or to sponsor families in the United States.

Kevin and all other media were told not to bring any cell phones inside the housing unit today.

The Health and Human Services Department 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.”

The Children are primarily from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the following statement.

The following is a statement that may be attributed to the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

 

“The Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been facilitating tours of our temporary Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelters at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme and Fort Sill in Oklahoma as frequently as possible without disrupting our ability to properly care for the children as part of this humanitarian situation. In addition to four media tours, we have provided five tours for approximately 55 local, state and federal elected officials who had requested the opportunity to observe the facilities, meet the staff and see the children.

     In order to protect the safety and privacy of the children, it has long been HHS’s standard policy to not allow recording devices in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for minors. 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 and privacy. This policy has been respected by visitors on all tours in both 2012 and 2014. As an alternative, we have released photographs of the shelters which do not include images that could identify the children.

 A tour for media is planned at Fort Sill on Thursday of this week, and a tour for members of Congress is planned at Fort Still for Saturday.  We will continue to schedule these tours of temporary shelters on a regular basis with any officials who request them, and will continue to work with members of the media to provide as much information as possible without jeopardizing the safety and security of minors and staff at the shelters.”

 

 

10:38 a.m. FORT SILL –  The nation’s immigration crisis is gaining attention in Oklahoma.

Federal officials at Fort Sill are allowing members of the media to take a tour of a temporary shelter that is housing more than 1,000 children who have come to the U.S. illegally.

Until now, the base has been completely off limits to the media.

However, there are strict guidelines reporters will have to follow at the base, which include no recording devices and no interaction with staff or children at the shelter.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials say there currently are 1,069 minors at the converted Army barracks on the post.

There has been a lot of secrecy around the operation at Fort Sill.

 

 

 

 


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