FORT SILL (AP) — Two Republican members of Congress toured a temporary shelter Saturday at the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, where more than 1,100 immigrant children are being housed.
Reps. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee visited the facility where some of the more than 57,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the U.S. illegally since October are being held. Most are children and teens from Central America.
"This is a humanitarian crisis in our country that we have to figure out," said Bridenstine, who said many of the children are victims of human traffickers who tell families that if they make it to the United States they will get a free pass.
"It's horrendous," Bridenstine said, adding that conditions in Central America may be dangerous, but it is far more dangerous to turn children over to human traffickers.
"This is about protecting the children," Bridenstine said.
Blackburn said the U.S. should reduce financial aid to the nations the children are fleeing, in order to pay the cost of caring for them while they remain in the U.S.
"We need to let these countries know that we will take the cost of this from their foreign aid accounts," Blackburn said.
Blackburn said she opposes President Barack Obama's call for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis along the nation's southern border.
"Money has been appropriated for border security," she said. "People are coming because they think if you get here you can stay. It is imperative that we let these countries know that there is not an entry mat."