An Oklahoma Congressman hoping to see first hand the conditions at Fort Sill, where immigrant children are being detained, told Newsmax TV
on Thursday he was denied access, stonewalled and eventually turned away.
Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, took an extensive tour of Fort Sill this week that included a "great conversation" about air defense artillery, military modernization and other national security issues.
But when Bridenstine said he wanted to visit the part of the base where immigrant children were being held, he was denied.
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"The I told them I wanted to visit the [Department of Health and Human Services] facility for unaccompanied alien children," Bridenstine told Ed Berliner on "MidPoint."
He said the section of military base, where barracks are located, had a "newly built chain link fence [with] cloth on it so nobody could see through it."
Bridenstine and his associates drove around the encampment a few times until "finally we saw somebody peering through."
They stopped the car and asked the guard to speak to the person in charge of the facility. After the guard called in, he was told they could come back on July 21 if they wanted to take a tour and that the visit would have to be booked in advance by a legislative liaison.
"I said, 'You do understand I am a member of Congress and this is federal property,' " Bridenstine said.
A call was then made to HHS, Bridenstine said, and his office was told the agency would be happy to accept emailed questions.
The lawmaker said there are "terrible stories" being reported, including reports from Lackland Air Force base that as many as 30 percent of the young girls migrating north have been raped or abused during their journey.
"Children in northern Mexico have died trying to make it here, and of course [there is] the human trafficking issue where children are being leased in order to gain access to this country," said Bridenstine. "All this is happening because the president has said, 'If you come with a child you will not be deported.' He has created this crisis."
Bridenstine said he is a former Navy pilot who has flown several missions in Central and South America and while the stories about crime and poverty are true, "it's no worse now than it was two years ago."
He said he believes, since he was blocked from entering the Fort Sill detention area, that the administration is trying to keep the illegal immigrants' stories under wraps.
Bridenstine said he blames the Obama administration and its decisions for the border crisis. "I don’t blame the gentlemen who said that I’m not allowed access, I don’t blame him. He’s following orders. The question is, where did those orders come from? How high do they go? Why is it that they don’t want the transparency? This was supposed to be the most transparent presidency in American history if you remember the campaign rhetoric."
On Thursday, HHS said it has been facilitating tours of its temporary shelters in several locations, and will continue to schedule more tours on a regular basis with "any officials who request them," KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reported.
"We have been facilitating tours of our temporary shelters at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme and Fort Sill as frequently as possible without disrupting our ability to properly care for the children as part of this humanitarian situation," HHS said in its statement. "In addition to four media tours, HHS has 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 interact with the children."
One of the major issues growing at the border is concern about the health of the children and adults that are coming into the United States.
The growing crush of children has sparked a major health crisis at hospitals along the nation's border, Ron Paul, a former Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate, told Newsmax TV Wednesday.
"Our hospitals have already been under siege by immigrants,'' Paul, an obstetrician, said on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"And with these thousands, tens of thousands, who knows how many [children] . . . you're going to see some very serious health problems . . . We've already overburdened many hospitals."
Paul added that it appears the Obama administration is more concerned with other borders around the world than with U.S. borders.
"We spend way too much money worrying about the borders between Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan,'' he said. "And we don't seem to have any concern or policies that would be more sensible here at home.''
The Centers for Disease Control's Emergency Operations Center has been activated
and is on alert to spot outbreaks of "epidemic diseases" such as measles, mumps, polio and tuberculosis, infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush said on Newsmax TV Thursday morning.
"The major concerns would be the vaccine-preventable diseases," he said on "America’s Forum."
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