Worker describes what it's like inside Homestead shelter for migrant children

Employee says facility serves poor food, children cry often

By Liane Morejon - Reporter

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - A worker at temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead said parts of the facility are unsanitary and the children often cry themselves to sleep at night.

The employee works for Comprehensive Health Service, which operates the temporary shelter for about a 1,000 children who entered the U.S. illegally at the southern border. About 100 of the children were separated from the parents when detained, but the majority are teens who came to the U.S. border alone.

The employee spoke to Local 10 News anonymously, knowing the potential consequences. 

"They threaten us that we're going to jail because we're on federal ground," the worker said.

State Reps. Sean Shaw and Jared Moskowitz said Wednesday that they were turned away from the Homestead shelter and unable to tour the inside of the facility.

A day earlier, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats from Florida, were denied entry. 

The employee wondered why lawmakers have not been allowed to tour the facility.

"I bet they're hiding something. Why won't they let them in?" the worker said.

Late Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the shelter, released a video of life inside the facility. 

The video shows children doing school work, eating lunch and making art work. The children's faces are obscured. 

The employee said the facility's kitchen has roaches and serves poor food.

"It's the worst food ever. The eggs? They taste bad. It's nasty," the worker said. "I bet you if someone sends the health department on them, they will close that shelter." 

Insiders tell Local 10 News the teens sleep in "dorm-like quarters," receive schooling and outdoor recreation. 

The worker described what is heard at night. 

"They constantly cry. When they go to bed they pray, but they're crying," the worker said.

The worker tells us there are strict rules about contact.

"There's no touching. Zero tolerance. We can't touch them. They can't touch us. They can't touch each other," the worker said.

When asked what the worker would change about the facility, the employee said "everything."

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