Rally held outside shelter for migrant children in Homestead

647 teens arrive to facility in last 3 days

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – A rally was held Tuesday outside the shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead, which is the largest shelter of its kind in the U.S.

Protesters told Local 10 News they believed the immigration system in the U.S. is dysfunctional and they take issue with the fact that the facility is being run by a for-profit government contractor, which was put in place by the Obama administration.

The facility houses children ages 13 to 17.

Signs held by the protesters had various messages, including "Free the children" and "Families belong together."

"You don't see children that are scared. They're not nervous, but they're smiling, they're talking, they're interacting," Jerry Haag, of One More Child, said.

But not everyone agrees that the children are OK with being at the shelter, which some describe as being more like a jail.

"The children are not happy. Children want to be out with their families," Lis Marie Alvaro, of the Homestead Coalition, said. "The staff are doing the best they can; however, the staff also is not knowledgeable about what's happening with current immigration law."

Hundreds of children are removed from the shelter and brought in each day.

From Saturday to Monday, 647 teens were brought to the shelter, while 734 were released into the custody of sponsors, who will assist them through the immigration process.


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