Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have said they plan to visit a facility in Homestead, Fla., where migrant children are being held as the 2020 candidates prepare for the first primary debates in Miami this week.
Their visits to the facility come amid renewed scrutiny over the treatment of migrant children in the custody of the U.S. government after attorneys told The Associated Press about filthy, dangerous conditions in which children were being held at a border facility in Clint, Texas.
ADVERTISEMENTAs of June 16, some 2,450 unaccompanied migrant children between the ages of 13 and 17 were being held at the Homestead facility, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fact sheet.
Democratic candidates including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (Minn.), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellNASCAR bans display of Confederate flag from events and properties Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts MORE (Calif.) and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson touts endorsements for progressive congressional candidates The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Warren becomes latest 2020 rival to back Biden The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden looks to stretch lead in Tuesday contests MORE said they would visit the facility this week.
Warren and Klobuchar are appearing in the presidential debate Wednesday night, while Swalwell and Williamson are in Thursday night’s event.
Warren said she saw children being marched “like little soldiers” in single file with guards when she went to the migrant shelter on Wednesday.
“There weren’t children playing. There weren’t children laughing the way children usually do when they’re moving from one place to another. There were children who were being marched like little soldiers, like little prisoners,” she said.
Here’s Elizabeth Warren on what she saw from outside Homestead today — she requested a visit but was not allowed in. pic.twitter.com/rZSa8C4skH
— maxwell (@maxwellstrachan) June 26, 2019
Spokesmen for Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE — who both are set to appear in the debate Thursday night — told The Hill in statements that they will also visit the facility on Friday morning.
The Hill has reached out for comment to HHS’s Administration for Children and Families.
Tetiana Anderson, a spokeswoman for Caliburn International, which operates the Homestead center, told The Hill in a statement that visitors to the facility are welcome, but they first have to register with the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which can take up to 14 days.
“The Homestead facility is fully transparent, allowing visitations from religious groups, congressional delegations, local government groups, consular officials and the media that have secured HHS ORR prior approval,” Anderson said.
A group of House Democrats visited the facility in February and called it “chilling.”
Twenty of the more than two dozen candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will face off in the debates on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
— Updated at 3:28 p.m.
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