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Immigration Crisis at Fort Sill Benefiting Lawton Hotels

With more than 1,100 undocumented children being held at Fort Sill, hundreds of workers from the Department of Health and Human Services are in Lawton to assist those in need.
With more than 1,100 undocumented children being held at Fort Sill, hundreds of workers from the Department of Health and Human Services are in Lawton to assist those in need.

Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce President Debra Burch says that is proving to be beneficial to Lawton's economy.

Burch says their hotels are experiencing high levels of occupancy as the immigration issue continues to heat up.

"We are seeing a lot of people from the Department of Health and Human Services here in the hotels and in the community," Burch says.

Burch says case workers, medical personnel, translators along with others are flooding Lawton to assist the children.

"Because of that, it did bring some new visitors to the community," Burch says. "It's a boost to our hotel occupancy, to our restaurants, to other services like rental cars."

Jamie Hall, General Manager of Springhill Suites says, "It's more than just one hotel. This is a large group that's coming to town. They've taken up several rooms in many of the name brand hotels here in town."

For instance, Hall says one group has booked 150 rooms for over 90 days.

He says Lawton has 22 properties with over 1,400 rooms and the ongoing situation on the post is benefiting the lodging economy.

"The first week of June, the average occupancy for the market was at 67% and in the last week that we just finished out was at 87%, so it's been tremendous impact on the hotel industry overall for the entire market," Hall says. 

Outside of anyone's political views, he says he is glad to have the workers in town to assist those in need.

"Every child deserves to be taken care of and there's certainly two sides to every story that you can look at in that situation but children certainly need to be taken care of," Hall says. "We'll let the officials work out the right or wrong of it."

Burch says summer travel and scheduled events in the city may also impact hotel occupancy in the next few months but they do not expect anyone to be left without a place to stay. 

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