unaccompanied minors

HHS To Shutter Homestead Detention Center, A Victory For Immigration Activists

Oct 28, 2019
AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD

The private prison company running the Homestead detention center that housed thousands of migrant children since 2018 and became a symbol of the Trump administration’s immigration policies will not have its contract renewed, according to an email sent to Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami, by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday.

The Trump administration will no longer allow migrant families apprehended at the border to enter the U.S. under the immigration policy commonly known as "catch and release."

The policy change was announced Monday by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD

The government has spent more than $33 million in 46 days to keep the Homestead detention center up and running even though no children are housed there, according to federal officials.

On Wednesday, Jonathan Hayes, the acting director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement — the agency in charge of housing unaccompanied migrant children — testified at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, along with other Department of Homeland Security leaders, about mental health services for migrant children.

A federal appeals court in California ruled that migrant children detained by U.S. immigration authorities must be provided with edible food, clean water, and basic hygiene items such as soap and toothbrushes, in accordance with a decades-old court order.

AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD

The Homestead detention center for unaccompanied immigrant children is expected to begin accepting kids again as early as October or November, federal government sources say, even though it officially shut down less than two weeks ago.

Sources close to the operation told the Miami Herald the federal government is anticipating an influx of children at the border some time in October.

Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t sure exactly what goes on inside the nation’s migrant detention facilities, but she wants to ability to check without warning that she’s coming.

Wasserman Schultz put forth a bill Monday prohibiting congressional members from being denied entry to any migrant facility operated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services or private contractors working on those agencies’ behalf. The bill also would allow congressional members to visit facilities without notice.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

Citing what it calls a slew of human-rights violations, Amnesty International is calling on the U.S. government to shut down the Homestead detention center before children in Miami-Dade start school again next month.

WILFREDO LEE / AP

The Homestead detention center is no longer taking in new children at its facility, government officials say.

The hold on the placement of unaccompanied minors began at least two weeks ago alongside the efforts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to downsize its child population by more than half, to 1,300 from 2,700.

“There are no plans to close Homestead at the moment,” an HHS spokeswoman told the Miami Herald in a text Monday.

JOHN MOORE / GETTY IMAGES

A 15-year-old boy from Houston, who was picked up by immigration authorities in Texas and sent to the Homestead children’s detention center even though he has lived in the U.S. since he was an infant and his parents live in the U.S., walked out of the facility on Sunday, two days after a story about his plight appeared in the Miami Herald.

Courtesy of Congresswoman Lois Frankel

U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel visited Lake Worth's facility for immigrant girls Monday. Frankel, who has also visited detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border, said the 37 girls housed in Lake Worth are "the lucky ones," compared to those staying in border facilities. 

"I found it very welcoming, very spacious, very clean," she said. "All the girls were in classrooms, some were learning English."

Feds Send Unaccompanied Immigrant Girls To Lake Worth-Area Facility

Jul 2, 2019
Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post

The federal government has begun sending immigrant girls to a facility west of Lake Worth Beach, bringing the immigration crisis that has been roiling the U.S. southern border to Palm Beach County.

As many as 141 children described in zoning documents as “unaccompanied minors” can be placed into the facility, located at 4445 Pine Forest Drive off of Military Trail south of Lake Worth Road.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET Monday

The Trump administration's immigration policies have drawn condemnation, but increasingly the criticism has also turned to a web of companies that are part of the multibillion-dollar industry that runs detention facilities housing tens of thousands of migrants around the country.

Businesses that supply goods and services to support those detention centers face increasing public and political scrutiny from investors, employees and activists.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

After a brief showdown over competing emergency humanitarian aid measures to alleviate the crisis at the southern border, the House voted 305-102 on Thursday to pass the Senate's less restrictive version of the bill.

The Senate had approved the legislation Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump supports the bill.

ELISE AMENDOLA / AP

A day after company officials toured the Homestead detention center for unaccompanied immigrant teenagers, Bank of America decided it will pull out of the private prison and detention industry.

The banking giant’s decision to withhold credit from facilities like the one in Homestead — which houses roughly 3,000 migrant teens — comes after company officials visited the property on Tuesday, sources told the Miami Herald. The bank would not confirm a visit to the facility.

MARÍA ALEJANDRA CARDONA / MIAMI HERALD

Three weeks into hurricane season, a South Florida congresswoman still can’t get a look at the plan to keep unaccompanied migrant children safe if a storm hits the Homestead shelter holding between 2,000 and 3,000 children.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has expressed concern that the kids inside the shelter — some of whom live in tent-like structures — could be seriously harmed.

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