Governor Fallin today received notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the Fort Sill facility for illegal immigrant minors will be closed on Friday, August 8.
The facility has been holding unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the United States’ southern border since June 13.
Fallin said she was pleased by the announcement, but worried the Obama administration might seek to reopen the facility sometime in the future.
“I am pleased that the Obama Administration is finally listening to the people of Oklahoma and acting to close the Fort Sill facility for illegal immigrants. However, I am disturbed the administration chose to renew its lease on the facility, thereby preserving the option of reopening it in the future.
“We know that illegal immigration naturally dips in the summer months, as temperatures rise at our southern border. Because of that decrease, the federal government has been able to empty the facility at Fort Sill and process the illegal immigrants they have brought to Oklahoma. There is nothing to stop this administration, however, from reopening the shelter at Fort Sill later in the year as the number of illegal immigrants apprehended naturally increases. I am calling on President Obama to set the record straight once and for all: will this facility be reopened, or can we trust that it has closed for good?
“As I have said for weeks, opening this facility at all was an improper use of our military base. It was a public health hazard. It was also an attempt to find a band-aid solution to a much larger border crisis caused by President Obama’s unwillingness to enforce our laws and secure our borders. I am relieved – as are many Oklahomans – to hear this facility will be closed by the end of the week. We can now use it as it was intended: as a military resource to house and train soldiers.
“Moving forward, I would like the president to give his word that this facility will remain closed permanently.”
Governor Fallin today issued the following statement in response to a ruling from 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“In 2004, voters had an opportunity to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriage in Oklahoma. Seventy-six percent voted not to, and to instead define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. I was one of the many voters who cast my ballot in favor of traditional marriage.
“Today’s ruling is another instance of federal courts ignoring the will of the people and trampling on the right of states to govern themselves. In this case, two judges have acted to overturn a law supported by Oklahomans. Their decision will be appealed and, I hope, overturned. As governor, I will continue to fight back against our federal government when it seeks to ignore or change laws written and supported by Oklahomans.”
House Media Division
Several policymakers met at the state Capitol today to discuss options for addressing the Obama Administration’s plan for sheltering illegal immigrant children at Fort Sill.
Rep. John Bennett said the group convened after hearing numerous complaints from citizens and is focusing on the long-term impact the Administration’s plan will have on the state, particularly in the areas of crime, public health and state sovereignty.
“As lawmakers, we have an obligation to do what is best for Oklahomans, not what is best for the political aspirations of President Obama,” said Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “Not only do these actions by the Administration threaten our state’s sovereignty by forcing us to break our own laws, but they threaten our citizens’ health and safety and will place a major financial burden on the people of Oklahoma who will have to pay for these illegal immigrants’ healthcare, food and shelter.”
The meeting included members of the House of Representatives Counter Terrorism Caucus, the House States’ Rights Committee, state Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City), state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), and staff from the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK
The group intends to meet again soon and will then announce details of their plan.
“As the House States’ Rights Committee Chair, I have received a number of inquiries from our committee members and concerned citizens as to how we are protecting Oklahoma’s sovereignty when the federal government doesn’t respect our state’s laws or even communicate with our elected officials,” said state Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia. “This seems to be an obvious attempt by the president to force his version of immigration reform upon the citizens of Oklahoma who know the only branch of government constitutionally able to legislate is the Congress.
“As elected officials, under oath, we are charged with upholding the constitutions of Oklahoma and the United States. To do otherwise is to face removal from office. Those encouraging the downtrodden to make the hazardous journey to these United States and subjecting them to a horrifying gauntlet of criminals are causing an unnecessary humanitarian crisis. An investigation should be conducted to capture and prosecute those initiating and benefiting from these illegal activities. Rest assured these crimes and attacks upon our states’ sovereignty shall not go on unopposed by this committee and your state Legislature!”
“I have received numerous calls, emails and social media inquiries from my home district pertaining to the situation at Fort Sill,” said state Rep. Justin Wood, R-Shawnee. “I believe it is the duty of the state Legislature and others in statewide elected office to protect Oklahoma sovereignty while also showing the compassion we are known for. The real tragedy is the loss of life during the trek to America for these young children due to the abuse of power and misguided enforcement of the Wilberforce Act of 2008. We are funding organized crime, such as the drug cartels and human trafficking with this encouragement.”
. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “We have a current law in Oklahoma that is being violated by the Federal government. This is a major concern for me. Make no mistake: this is humanitarian crisis.”
Gov. Mary Fallin harshly criticized the Obama administration’s immigration policies on Wednesday and said she fears the recent influx of unaccompanied minors from Latin America will become a financial burden to the states.
“Many of our public schools are already at capacity and need additional funding,” Fallin said. “Our health-care system is strained as it is. Now, instead of allowing us to address those needs for Oklahomans, President Obama is forcing us to add an unspecified number of illegal immigrants to our public education and public health systems.
“The president is ignoring the very real needs of Oklahomans — and Americans everywhere — so that he can continue a policy of amnesty for families that want to send their children to the United States. Ultimately, it’s American taxpayers who are picking up the tab.”
A plurality of Americans believes immigration is the most important problem facing the U.S., a new poll says.
According to a Gallup poll released Wednesday, 17 percent of Americans think immigration is the country’s biggest problem, a major jump just from last month, when 5 percent listed immigration for the same question. This is the highest that immigration has ranked in the Gallup survey since 2006. Historically, spikes in mentions of immigration as the top issue have quickly receded.
In the past month, the Obama administration and Congress have been confronted with a crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 50,000 undocumented children from Central America have arrived since October. A Washington Post/ABC News survey released Tuesday showed that a more than half of Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation at the border and two-thirds disapprove of congressional Republicans’ approach.
In Wednesday’s survey, respondents were split on which party was better suited to tackle immigration — 35 percent said Republicans are better able to handle the problem and 35 percent said Democrats.
Twenty-three percent of Republicans mentioned immigration as the biggest problem, compared with just 11 percent of Democrats, a finding that Gallup said could suggest the numbers are fueled primarily by concerns about illegal immigration.
Sixteen percent of respondents said dissatisfaction with government, poor leadership and corruption is the country’s biggest problem, putting that in second place. The economy came in third with 15 percent, unemployment and jobs in fourth with 14 percent and health care rounded out the top five with 8 percent.
Those problems scored ahead of other issues including the federal budget deficit and debt, education, poverty, taxes and wage issues.
The survey was conducted July 7-10 with 1,013 adults. The margin for error is plus-or-minus four percentage points.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/poll-immigration-us-top-problem-108969.html#ixzz37d2tbrkQ
Rep. Mike Ritze said today he has sent letters to Gov. Mary Fallin, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Terry Cline and state representatives in the Lawton area encouraging them to do all they can to ensure the protection of Oklahoma citizens from contagious diseases following the federal government’s decision to house illegal immigrant children at Ft. Sill.
“More than 1,100 unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are currently being housed at Fort Sill,” said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. “As a physician, the chairman of Public Safety A&B, and a citizen of Oklahoma, I am concerned about the possibility of communicable diseases being carried by a population that does not have the same vaccination requirements as in the U.S.”
Ritze is a board certified physician and surgeon with a master’s degree in forensic science administration. Recently, he observed three cases of illegal immigrants having tuberculosis. Additionally, the Arkansas Department of Health reported leprosy in patients who were illegal immigrants in Northwest Arkansas. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has reported cases of syphilis in Northeast Oklahoma in patients who are illegal immigrants.
Pursuant to the Oklahoma Administrative Code 310:521-703(b), his letters request that the illegal immigrants at Fort Sill be quarantined. Pursuant to the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act, his letter also requests that the governor declare a state of catastrophic health emergency until it can be proven that the minors do not carry communicable diseases.
Ritze has also requested the AG Scott Pruitt take any action within his constitutional bounds regarding illegal immigration activity and any action that is authorized by law for the Attorney General to provide support to local law enforcement and district attorneys to enforce immigration law.
Ritze is encouraging all state officials, especially his fellow state representatives to do what they can to uphold the laws the State of Oklahoma has in place for situations such as this.
To respect that autonomy of local government, Ritze is also encouraging state representatives from Lawton to reach out to their district attorney and sheriff to enforce The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, which makes it unlawful and a potential felony for any person to transport, conceal, harbor, or shelter any alien in any place within the state of Oklahoma..
“I am hopeful that these Oklahoma leaders will do all they can to work with Fort Sill to ensure the safety and security of Oklahoma citizens,” Ritze said.
Congressman Tom Cole released the following statement after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested expanded and longer use of Department of Defense (DoD) facilities to house the unaccompanied alien children (UAC) swarming our borders.
Since fiscal year 2011, the number of these individuals entering our country has grown from 6,000 to 66,000 last year. By next year, as many as 150,000 children are expected to illegally enter the country. Due to this flood of illegal juveniles, the normal facilities are unable to manage this surge leading the Administration to allow and order the use of our military bases, including Fort Sill in Lawton, for housing and processing these children before they are released to sponsors elsewhere in the country—supposedly on a temporary basis.
According to recent reports, in addition to the capacity for 3,600 children currently being provided by DoD, HHS is now asking for the capability to house up to 5,000 more unaccompanied children through January 31, 2015 if permanent facilities are not yet available.
“As suspected, the surge of illegal juveniles at our borders and the president’s supposedly temporary plan to use military bases for housing is looking more permanent by the day,” said Cole. “By requesting expansion of the military facilities and setting an even longer timeframe, it appears that the Administration intends to turn military bases into permanent detention facilities. This is an incredible failure on the part of the Administration and an incredible injustice to our service men and women for which these facilities are designed.
“Unless and until we remove the incentives for these illegal juveniles to enter our country, they will continue to overwhelm our borders. The president must stop the rhetoric and get serious about solving this problem. That means sending these individuals back to their country of origin and doing so as expeditiously as possible. It’s time to stop trying to manage the flow and fix the problem.”
The Tulsa World was one of several news organizations that went on a Thursday tour of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services facilities for illegal alien children at Fort Sill.
You can read the Tulsa World description of the facilities on page A1 of Friday’s newspaper.
The immigration policy that made those facilities necessary are controversial, but the nature of the facilities became part of the story last week, when U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine tried and failed to get inside. Bridenstine subsequently was promised a Saturday tour, but has bristled at the rules imposed by HHS and has promised to resist their efforts to control his oversight. Stay tuned on that one.
The Thursday media tour of the facilities came with several restrictions. The tour would be brief (planned for only 40 minutes). No recording devices were allowed. No interaction with staff or the children was allowed. All questions had to be sent to a public relations man for HHS in Washington after the tour. No photos were allowed, although HHS provided pictures after the tour ended.
The tour was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, and — unhappy as we were with the restrictions — we decided to take it.
It’s not ideal, but neither is it unusual for journalists to work under restrictions imposed by people in power. We could cite examples from foreign countries and war zones, but don’t need to go that far.
For no good reason, Tulsa County district judges routinely don’t allow photographers in or around their courtrooms. Recording devices, which would only enhance accuracy of court reporting, aren’t allowed either. We complain about it and take every opportunity to lobby for changes in courthouse policy, but we go ahead and report the news inside the courtrooms, despite the restrictions.
We chose to be part of the Fort Sill tour so that we could report what was available for what it was worth. How much is it worth? We’ll let the readers — fully informed about the restrictions on the process — be the judge of that.
While it might be the only time the media is allowed inside the facility, we hardly look at this as the final word on what’s going on there. We’ll be back when Bridenstine has his tour on Saturday. We support his efforts to bring greater transparency to the facility.
If HHS officials imagine that offering the tour will allow them to use our credibility to back up their transparency on this issue, let us disabuse them. The tour is, in fact, strong evidence of their lack of transparency. It makes us more suspicious that they’re hiding something, not less so.
We’ve seen your orchestrated tour and reported it. Now, can we see the rest of the story?