U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said a detention shelter that's housing migrant children has already reunified some children with their families. But she wants the federal government to do more to expedite the process.
Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Carlos Curbelo toured Monsignor Bryan Walsh Children's Village in Cutler Bay on Monday. The "tender-age facility," which is run by Catholic Charities, is housing 70 undocumented children as young as newborns, 22 of whom have been separated from their familes, Wasserman Schultz said.
The tour came after the Democratic congresswoman visited a larger child detention center in Homestead on Saturday. She said the Cutler Bay facility had a warmer atmosphere and offered more amenities than the Homestead Center for Unaccompanied Children.
Kids at the Cutler Bay center "are taken on field trips," Wasserman Schultz said, noting that Miami-Dade County Public Schools teaches the children during the school year. "This is more like a facility with a full program, unlike the bare-bones, military-style, antiseptic facility in Homestead."
Catholic Charities has also reunited some children at the Cutler Bay facility with sponsors, which include family members or other people designated by parents, she said.
The Department of Homeland Security recently released a plan to reunify children with their families, but did not provide a timeline for when the reunifications will happen. Wasserman Schultz criticized DHS for not having staff work on weekends to continue the reunification process.
"If there [were] aggressive efforts to reunify these children with their parents, then it would be a 24-7 effort," she said.
She added that the Trump administration should end its "zero tolerancy policy" of detaining indefinitely all migrants who cross the border illegally. Families caught crossing the border should instead be released and moitored electronically to ensure they show up to immigration court, she said.