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President’s Temporary Plan Looking More Permanent by the Day

July 14, 2014
Weekly Columns

Over the last several weeks, we’ve watched a growing crisis at our borders resulting in a flood of unaccompanied illegal juveniles—all fueled by the Administration’s immigration policy failure and refusal to enforce current immigration law. Because of the president’s failure to send these minors home quickly or at all, he has now incentivized thousands more to come at the hands and usually at the high profit of criminal cartels. 

Since the normal facilities are unable to manage the surge of these minors, the Administration last month turned to military bases, including Fort Sill in Lawton, for housing these individuals. Even though the president reassured the country through his usual campaign rhetoric that the space would only be used temporarily and as an emergency measure, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already requested a time extension and greater overall capacity with the Department of Defense (DoD).  

According to recent reports, in addition to the capacity for 3,600 children currently being provided by DoD, HHS is now asking for a total overall capacity of 8,600 across military facilities and use through the end of January 2015 if permanent facilities are not yet available. By requesting expansion of the military facilities and setting an even longer timeframe, it appears that the Administration intends to turn military bases into semi-permanent detention facilities. 

It is not yet clear if more bases will be added or if Fort Sill will be required to continue housing these individuals, but the problem isn’t going away. Those juveniles making the journey are not being deterred from entering our country because they know this Administration will not send them home.  

As I suspected, predicted and feared when I learned that a base in my district would be used for housing these juveniles, it appears that the Administration intends to use military facilities as semi-permanent detention facilities rather than addressing his policy that caused the flow in the first place. Unless and until we remove the incentives for these illegal juveniles to enter our country, they will continue to overwhelm our borders and the president will continue to misuse our nation's military facilities by using them as juvenile detention centers. That is an abuse of our defense resources and an injustice to the men and women who volunteered to serve. 

The president must stop the rhetoric and get serious about solving the actual problem. That means sending these individuals back to their country of origin and doing so as expeditiously as possible. Unfortunately, he is apparently more interested in managing and processing the flow of these individuals as opposed to stopping them, and he intends to use our military bases to that end.

In the days ahead, I plan to use whatever legislative means appropriate and available to discontinue use of our military bases for housing illegal minors and instead reserve the space for those for whom it was designed.