U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has filed legislation that would stop executive branch officials from denying members of Congress entry in migrant detention facilities.
The legislation is titled the Help Oversee, Manage and Evaluate Safe Treatment and Ensure Access without Delay (HOMESTEAD) Act of 2019.
“This Administration has proven it cannot be trusted to protect vulnerable people who have made a desperate journey to our country to escape violence and oppression,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“Congress must assert its constitutional authority to provide vigorous oversight of these facilities without giving administration officials days to stage-manage who and what visitors can see. If Congress can show up at these detention centers at any time, the Administration will not be able to hide the horrors some of these children endure.”
The bill specifically would prohibit officials from requiring advance notice from members of Congress prior to entering a “facility operated by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, or contractors working on behalf of those agencies.”
Wasserman Schultz said that while current law requires 48 hours notice for a visit, she’s been asked by officials overseeing the Homestead facility for two-weeks’ notice prior to being able to review the center.
“Advance warning of our visits can lead to a skewed impression of the actual conditions inside these facilities,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“Congress must be able to exercise its constitutional oversight authority and ensure that all migrants coming here are treated with dignity and humanity.”
Officials from the Donald Trump administration have had to deal with a surge of migrants at the border in recent months. That’s led to overcrowding at some facilities, with reports detailing a lack of hygiene, food and mental health treatment at some of those facilities.
Wasserman Schultz was among a handful of Florida lawmakers to call for the facility for close after a lawsuit was filed, alleging the children housed there are suffering from “permanent psychological damage.”
The Trump administration has said they are ensuring workers are doing their best to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis. Trump has called for increased funding to help detain those migrants.