Some five security guards responded to Congressman Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) visit outside the Health and Human Services facility housing unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, this week, barring his entry.
The secrecy surrounding the federal facility has the Oklahoma congressman outraged.
“I am a member of Congress, this is federal property, and they cannot prevent me from visiting,” Bridenstine told Breitbart News in an interview Thursday, explaining what his legal counsel is relaying to HHS.
Officials blocked Bridenstine from entering the HHS facility currently housing approximately 1,200 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors Tuesday – leaving the Republican asking, “What are they trying to hide?”
“I am guessing they don’t want me to hear these stories [of suffering] because I will tell them to people,” Bridenstine told Breitbart News in an interview Thursday.
“Here we have a detention facility for unaccompanied alien children, and the president is showing a complete lack of transparency,” he added.
Bridenstine stressed that his primary concern is the protection of the youths but said they need to be repatriated to their home countries to discourage others from making the dangerous trek northward.
“The refusal to enforce the law has created more human suffering than enforcing the law would create – the human suffering is happening now because [of] this president’s refusal to enforce the law. This is about the protection of children,” he said.
Restricted access at the HHS facilities have not just been relegated to Ft. Sill. In a conference call with reporters about his recent border visit leading a congressional delegation, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said Thursday that congressmen were not technically allowed to speak to the children detained in the facilities the delegation visited.
“In the facilities we were not allowed to speak with the children, but there were a few members who spoke with them anyway,” Goodlatte said, adding that he was able to speak with some of the illegal immigrant children near the Rio Grande River when Border Patrol apprehended a group of illegal immigrants.
HHS told Bridenstine he can visit the facility on July 21. According to the Oklahoma congressman, however, that is unacceptable and he is working to gain access before then.
In an emailed statement to Breitbart News, the Administration for Children and Families at HHS said they are scheduling tours with officials who request them.
“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,” the statement read.
“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,” it added.