Protesters gather outside Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children

Protesters blast president, demand government to stop separating families

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Most of the 1,000 children at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children crossed the border without their parents, but 94 of the children, who crossed the border with their parents, were separated from them and then taken to the Homestead facility.

Outrage is growing over the children being split from their families.

Protesters gathered Wednesday at the Homestead facility, where they blasted President Donald Trump and demanded the government stop separating undocumented children from their parents at the southern border and bringing them to South Florida. 

"My son with autism -- I'm dragging him out here to make a point," protester Christina Justiniano said. "He's my child. He should be with me at all times, and that's for everybody."

The protest comes a day after security guards kicked U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, off the property.

The two Democrats showed up Tuesday to tour the facility and see the conditions in which the children are living.

"I have never been turned away, ever," Nelson told reporters outside the facility. 

"They said that they need two weeks, and that that's their standard operating procedure," Wasserman Schultz said. "What takes two weeks to allow a member of Congress and a coequal branch of government to be able to go into a facility run by the executive branch, that is funded with taxpayers’ dollars, unless you're trying to cover up what it is that's going on here?"

Some of the children appeared to be getting exercise at the facility Wednesday, as Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright spotted several soccer balls and footballs flying into the air.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wrote a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asking for information on the status of the children.

"I have been very clear that I absolutely do not agree with the practice of separating children from their families. This practice needs to stop now," he wrote. 

"This is terrible, unacceptable," Justiniano said. 

Several state representatives, city leaders and immigration activists are planning to show up to the facility Wednesday to see whether they will also be turned away.

They're demanding to get a tour of the facility to see how the children are doing.

Even though they will likely be turned away, they said they still have to try.

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