Congressman Barred From Child Immigration Facility Now Plans July 12 Visit

July 7, 2014 - 11:17 AM

Rep Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), denied access to a federal immigration facility in his home state of Oklahoma on July 1, now says he will visit the 1,100 Central American children being held at Ft. Sill on July 12.

He also told the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the center for unaccompanied alien children -- mostly teenagers -- that he plans to make other, unannounced visits to Ft. Sill, because "the tragedy that is occurring requires unfettered access."

"I will bring my staff, interpreters and legal counsel," Bridenstine wrote in a July 5 letter to HHS's congressional liaison. "We will speak with HHS staff members, contractor personnel, and persons being detained at the Fort Sill UAC (unaccompanied alien children) facility for whatever period is needed to secure an adequate understanding of facility operations and the stories of those being detained."

Bridenstine said his "recurring" visits may include other members of Congress -- and "responsible journalists" to share the stories with the American people.

As CNSNews.com previously reported, Bridenstine was denied entry to the Ft. Sill holding pen when he made an unannounced visit there earlier this month.

He fumed that a sitting member of Congress was denied entry to a federal facility in the state he represents. "Is the policy that members of Congress don't have access to federal facilities? That's the question," Bridenstine told Fox News on July 2.

In his July 7 letter to HHS, Bridenstine called it "unacceptable" that a representative of the people be limited to "preplanned, showcase visits" to immigration facilities.

"Just as foster parents in the State of Oklahoma are subject to unannounced visits by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, federal representatives of the people should be able to access UAC facilities at times of their choosing."

Bridenstine says the "extreme human suffering and trafficking" stem directly from "misguided" immigration policy.

"Congress, the media and indeed HHS itself should be shining a bright light on the human tragedy continuing to grow day by day and week by week as a consequence of our open border," he wrote.