HHS Says Emergency Shelters on Bases Will Be Shut Down

Monday, 04 Aug 2014 07:14 PM

By Cathy Burke and Greg Richter

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Three emergency shelters at military bases housing some of the thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who've poured across the U.S.-Mexico border will be shut down — but one Republican governor wants assurances they'll stay shuttered.

The Health and Human Services Department announced Monday the numbers of children making the illegal crossing at the southern border has declined, and other shelters will be adequate, CBS News reported.

The detention facility at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma will be closed by the end of this week, and shelters in Texas at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and in California at Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme will shutter in the next two to eight weeks, agency spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said, CBS News reported.

The three have sheltered some 7,700 children, and Wolfe said they could reopen if needed, CBS News reported.

The closures mark a sharp turnaround from an assessment late last month, reported by Breitbart News, that the government was preparing to expand the use of military bases by adding 5,000 beds.

And it's just that possibility that has Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma concerned. Fallin told Fox News Channel's "Your World With Neil Cavuto" Monday  she's heard the lease on the Fort Sills shelter has been extended through Jan. 31.

"So we're receiving mixed signals," Fallin said.

"We've been held in the dark," she added, explaining she hasn't been given exact numbers ever since the facility began taking children in.

She originally was told Fort Sill would have 1,200 minor unaccompanied children, but that number rose to 1,800. She also said children from countries other than Guatemala, Honduras and El Savador were housed at Fort Sill, and 212 have been released within Oklahoma.

In a statement, Fallin said she's also skeptical the tide of migrant children has permanently dropped. “We know that illegal immigration naturally dips in the summer months, as temperatures rise at our southern border," she said, arguing President Barack Obama should "give his word that this facility will remain closed permanently."

“As I have said for weeks, opening this facility at all was an improper use of our military base," she said. "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."

Officials have estimated as many as 90,000 migrant children could make the illegal crossing this year.

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