A Homestead detention center housing immigrant minors denied entry to U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
The Miami Republican says he cleared his visit through proper channels but still was not allowed to check on the status of the children at the facility, many of whom were separated from adults at the border.
Curbelo expressed outrage on Twitter after being denied entry. He says he confirmed the visit over a week ago.
“All protocols to request, schedule & get clearance were followed, and yet last night was told by @HHSGov staff in Washington I would be refused entry.”
He also voiced support for a bipartisan bill being filed in the House by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Sunrise Democrat, that would require access to such facilities for all members of Congress.
Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson last month were denied entry into the same facility in June.
Curbelo says he was disappointed that happened, and noted HHS officials at the time suggested the surprise visit by the senator and congresswoman had violated protocol. He says he followed that supposed protocol, but his staff learned Thursday night he would be denied entry as well.
The issue of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement separating families at the border last month blew into one of the biggest political issues of the year. Trump on June 20 signed an executive order stopping the practice, but unaccompanied children remain at facilities like the one in Homestead await reunion with their families.
Curbelo is running for a third term in the House this year. He’s the only Republican congressman in Florida standing for re-election whose district went to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried Florida’s 26th Congressional District by more than 16 points, according to Daily Kos, while Curbelo defeated Democrat Joe Garcia by almost 13 points.
This year, Curbelo faces a primary challenge from Souraya Faas, a frequent guest on Russian state-sponsored television. In November, he will face the winner of a Democratic primary between Navy veteran Demetries Andrew Grimes, who has played up his heritage as a child of immigrants, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, herself an immigrant who has been active in philanthropy in South Florida for 20 years.