Inhofe Statement on Visit to Fort Sill to Tour Facility Housing Children Who Entered the U.S. Illegally

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today visited Fort Sill to tour the Army military base where nearly 600 unaccompanied children from Central America who crossed the border illegally are being housed. Fort Sill has been advised to prepare to house up to 1,400 children.

"Today's tour of Fort Sill just reaffirmed to me that something must be done to secure our borders and to force the Obama Administration to abide by our immigration laws," said Inhofe. "The flood of children coming to the border without parents is a humanitarian crisis, and the President is also turning it into a national security issue by housing these individuals on our military installations. Since the President created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 and instructed DHS to ‘exercise discretion,’ the average number of unaccompanied children arriving at our borders has surged by 100 percent, and we are being warned it is only going to increase. The promise for ‘amnesty’ that the Administration has communicated to those in Latin America is resulting in an increase in dangerous child trafficking rings and families parting ways all with hope that they can obtain amnesty.  My greatest concern with today's visit is that the Administration still could not provide us answers to basic questions as to where the resources are going to come from to care for these children or the assurance that housing them on a military installation will not become a permanent program. As I've said before, the President needs to send a strong message to the world that our immigration laws will be enforced."

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced a program of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who came here as children to request deferred prosecutorial action for a period of two years, which can be renewed. Those who are qualified and apply will be safe from deportation, obtain work authorization, are eligible to receive a social security number, and, in nearly every state, a driver’s license. Since 2012, over 520,000 requests have been approved as of February of this year.

In November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report stating that the number of unaccompanied children detained at the border averaged about 6,600 in fiscal years 2004 through 2011. The number increased to 13,000 in fiscal year 2012 and to more than 24,000 in fiscal year 2013. This year, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border is expected to be 66,000 and to increase to 127,000 by next year.

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