Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied entry to Homestead facility housing migrant kids

Bill Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz say they were denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing around 1,000 migrant children, despite earlier assurances they would be allowed entry.

“Heading to Homestead, Florida tomorrow to check on the roughly 1,000 migrant children reportedly being held there,” Nelson wrote yesterday on Twitter. He also criticized President Donald Trump‘s policy of separating some migrant children from their families, calling the practice “inhumane.”

That visit was stifled when U.S. Health and Human Services barred Nelson and Wasserman Schultz from entering the facility. The pair says they were intent on checking on the welfare of the children. But HHS requires a two-week notice before visitation, according to Nelson’s account of his conversation with officials.

“They are obviously hiding something, and we are going to get to the bottom of this,” Nelson added.

Nelson later stated that HHS confirmed 94 of the children held in Hialeah were separated from their families.

The attempted visit comes amid outcry over the administration’s new policy, which has resulted in nearly two thousand children being taken into separate custody from April 19 to May 31.

Trump has falsely blamed Democrats for the issue. He ratcheted up the rhetoric with a statement earlier today, arguing Democrats want to allow illegal immigrants “to pour into and infest” the country, “no matter how bad they are.”

Though Congress can pass a law reforming the country’s immigration policy, several of Trump’s own administration members have admitted to initiating the policy as a way to deter people from entering the country illegally. And the president has full authority to make a change.

The Trump administration’s actions have resulted in harsh criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. “These are kids who were taken from their moms and dads,” said Nelson in Homestead earlier today. “They are scared. And this administration should be ashamed of itself.”

Wasserman Schultz echoed those sentiments, arguing the pair should not have been denied entry to the Homestead facility. “The American people deserve to see the cruel way the Trump Administration is treating children.”

Wasserman Schultz says she also knows of two more detention centers in Miami-Dade County housing migrant children. They are reportedly located in Miami Gardens and Cutler Bay.

And earlier today, CD 27 candidate Matt Haggman released a new campaign ad, arguing for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But criticism is coming from the right as well, including from Republican Florida legislators.

Today, state Sen. Rene Garcia added his name to that list, saying, “I support securing our borders but I cannot support the actions of this admin. on separating children from their parents. It is heartless and inhumane the way children are being separated. This debate is no longer about a wall but who we are as a people. We’re much better than this!”

And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who Haggman is running to replace, bashed Trump’s use of the word “infest” when referring to illegal immigration. “The real infestation is only one of your baseless rhetoric,” she said of Trump.

Whether the widespread outcry will push the president to reverse course before new legislation remains to be seen. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is attempting to get federal legislators to sign a letter urging Trump to do just that.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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