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Access Denied: Immigration Facility Deemed Off Limits to Lawmaker

accessdenied.jpgLast week a republican representative from Oklahoma was denied access to an immigration detention center in his state. Representative Jim Bridenstine drafted a strongly worded letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services blasting officials there for his having been refused permission to enter the facility when he visited there. The center, located in Fort Still, Oklahoma, holds more than 1,100 children who have been captured crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. The lawmaker said in his letter that DHHS supervisory personnel at Fort Still told him that he would need to make an appointment for later in the month to visit the facility. He also said that the Department’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs had refused to take his call.

The detention center is of three such locations that have been built over the last several years specifically for the purpose of housing the scores of undocumented and unaccompanied children who cross the border into the United States every year. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the 52,000 children that have already been detained in these facilities so far in 2014 are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Bridenstine recalled in an interview about his failed visit to the center that he had stood outside the building on the grounds where the children were actually housed and noticed that there was a newly erected fence and some kind of material covering any windows in order to obscure the view into the building.

Bridenstine wants to know what they are “trying to hide” by making it so difficult for a US Congressional leader to not only be admitted to a federal facility in his state but to even see inside it. Federal law dictates that underage persons who are captured at the border go through processing first and then are given educational as well as recreational materials and activities until they can be placed with relatives inside the country to wait for deportation. President Barack Obama requested $2 billion from Congress in order to increase the capacity of these detention centers for children as well as to provide the necessary resources to further streamline the screening and deportation processes.

The issue of illegal immigration is certainly nothing new in North America and has been one of the major hot button topics for the last fifty years in particular. But the issue has taken on a somewhat newer controversy as the focus has shifted to children trying to cross the border illegally. And these are not just children being dragged over by their parents or other relatives but rather children who cross the border by themselves. It has become a veritable humanitarian crisis and certain Congressional leaders have blamed the current President’s administration for fanning the flames by creating an immigration policy that promotes and encourages children to seek refuge in the United States. If you or someone you know would like more information about US immigration policy or require legal counsel for an immigration related issue, please visit the Austin immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm website or call their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.