Tulsa groups unite to help immigrant minors; about 1,200 children to be housed at Fort Sill

TULSA, Okla. - Nearly 1,200 undocumented migrant children will arrive in the Sooner State starting Friday.

Green Country groups are uniting forces to find a way to help federal authorities handle the situation.

The children were caught trying to cross the U.S./Mexican border illegally. More than 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been taken into custody since last fall. A fraction of those children will be housed at Fort Sill this week.

Hispanic leader Lydia D'Ross says it's important to help these children emotionally.

“We want to make sure these children deal with the fears,” she said.

D'Ross is in contact with FEMA and state religious leaders who are trying to figure out what their roles can be during this situation.

“Right now, we need to figure out who the players are so we can resolve this quickly and effectively,” she said. "Right now, the situation is more of a humanitarian effort.”

YWCA's Director of Mission Impact Mana Tahaie says it's important to educate Oklahomans about what forced the children to take such a dangerous journey.

"Many of the children were escaping violence in their country so many of them don't have parents, so they were coming here,” she said.

Tahaie is concerned that the children will be dehumanized and used as a "political football." 

“These children currently don't have legal council,” Tahaie said. “One of our top priorities is going to be ensuring that they're on civil liberties and their rights are protected.”

The YWCA provides assistance to more than 10,000 immigrants in Green Country every year. Tahaie is organizing a conference calls this Friday with leaders interested in being involved.

For more information, contact Tahaie at mtahaie@ywcatulsa.org.

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