GOP rep. denied entry to migrant housing facility

Rep. Jim BridenstineJim BridenstineLawmakers turned over gifts after secretly funded trip to Azerbaijan Republicans blast Pentagon energy programs Louie Gohmert faces his biggest challenge MORE (R-Okla.) said authorities denied him access this week to a federal facility housing unaccompanied child immigrants.

In a blistering statement, Bridenstine said a member of Congress should have been guaranteed entry to view the government facility in Fort Sill, Okla., operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is no excuse for denying a federal representative from Oklahoma access to a federal facility in Oklahoma where unaccompanied children are being held. Any member of Congress should have the legal authority to visit a federal youth detention facility without waiting three weeks," Bridenstine said.

Under current law, unaccompanied children caught illegally crossing the border must be held in the custody of the HHS until they are released to a sponsor.

Bridenstine explained that an HHS official said he could schedule an appointment for July 21 and email the department's deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs, Ken Wolfe.

"I approached a security guard and asked to speak with the manager of the facility. The guard called his supervisor who said no visitors were allowed. I asked if they were aware that I am a member of Congress. Eventually the manager came out and said that I would have to go through HHS legislative affairs and that the first chance to visit would be July 21st," Bridenstine recalled.

Bridenstine wondered whether the facility was trying to conceal information from the public and federal officials.

"What are they trying to hide? Do they not want the children to speak with members of Congress?" Bridenstine said. 

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