Nelson, Wasserman Schultz denied entry into Homestead child migrant detention facility

94 children separated from families at southern border housed at facility


HOMESTEAD, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, were denied entry into a reopened Miami-area facility for children who entered the U.S. illegally and alone.

The senator and congresswoman were told by a guard they would be "trespassing" if they attempted to enter the center, although the congresswoman said they were previously told that they would be allowed into the facility.

"There's nothing in a classified nature that we would be seeing today that they would have to withhold," Nelson told reporters outside the facility.

Wasserman Schultz confirmed the facility's use during an event Monday. The facility, known as the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, is sheltering 94 children who were separated from their families after illegally crossing the southern border. Another 900 teens are being held at the facility after they crossed the border unaccompanied. 

The 1,000-bed facility is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Department spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said in an email Monday that it had reopened as "a temporary unaccompanied alien children program facility." He did not provide additional details.

Reporters weren't allowed onto the property. Nelson and Wasserman Schultz briefly answered questions before attempting to go inside the facility.

"We have a family separation policy that has gone far beyond just prosecuting parents and saying, 'Well, we can't let children go to jail with parents,'" Wasserman Schultz said. 

One protester joined them outside, holding a sign showing a Nazi guard pulling a child away from woman with a Jewish star and saying, "Nazis took children away. Trump inhumane."

Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Gavin Smith later denied an AP reporter access to Secretary Alex Azar while he was at a Miami hospital meeting with opioid patients.  

Smith barred the reporter from asking Azar questions about the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children because an interview with the secretary hadn't been pre-arranged.

Republican lawmakers from Miami-Dade County have also condemned the policy of separating families crossing the border.

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