Lawmaker: Detention center for migrant kids is disturbing

Democrats tour Homestead Detention Center for migrant children

By Sanela Sabovic - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - After touring the Homestead Detention Center for the seventh time, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said Saturday that she wants the "prison-like facility" to be shut down.

Mucarsel-Powell toured the facility, which houses about 1,100 kids, with Rep. Veronica Escobar, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Miami-Dade County Director of Emergency Management Frank Rollason. 

"The amount of kids has been reduced significantly in a very short period of time, which shows you that where there is a will, there is a way," said Mucarsel-Powell, who was born in Ecuador and moved to the U.S. when she was 14 years old. "I have felt the same disturbing feeling that I have felt every single time that I have visited this facility."

Mucarsel-Powell said many of the children who she was allowed to speak to have been held for more than 55 days. The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the facility. 

"This is not a temporary facility," said Rodriguez, who was born in Miami to a Cuban father who moved to the U.S. at 15 years old. "It shouldn't exist like this. We know that we can do better."

The Miami Herald published the federal government’s hurricane plan that prompted the population reduction at the detention center. Rollason said Miami-Dade County doesn't have a verified copy. 

Rep. Debbie Waserman Schultz introduced a bill on July 22nd expanding access to federal detention centers for unaccompanied migrant children. 

"This administration has proven it cannot be trusted to protect vulnerable people who have made a desperate journey to our country to escape violence and oppression," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. 

Meanwhile in Washington, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman, criticized Homeland Security officials over the conditions of detention centers for migrants held along the southern border.

President Donald Trump responded to the criticism of his administration on Saturday saying Cummings' Baltimore-area district is a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" and "considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States."

The president's tweets were reminiscent of his condemnation earlier this month of the four Democratic congresswomen of color he asked to get out of the U.S. saying that if they "hate our country" they can go back to their "broken and crime-infested" countries.

 

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