MSNBC reported Tuesday that several Democrats vying for the party’s 2020 nomination will attempt to hold a press conference or conduct a photo call at one of the border patrol’s busiest detention facilities, the Homestead, Florida, detention center for unaccompanied minors, ahead of Wednesday’s primary debate in Miami.
The Homestead Temporary Shelter For Unaccompanied Children has been the focus of a number of pro-immigrant protests since the summer of 2018, when the Trump administration was holding minor children, separated from their parents under the administration’s then-policy, at the South Florida facility.
As of mid-June, an estimated 3,000 immigrant children are being held at the facility awaiting adjudication on asylum claims, while pro-immigrant groups have demanded that the children there be released to family members already residing in the United States or into the custody of temporary caregivers and child advocates, but as with other asylum-seekers waiting at the border, the Customs and Border Protection is slowly working through Homestead’s residents’ applications and assigning hearing dates.
Sensing an opportunity to grandstand on the issue, apparently, MSNBC reports that Democratic 2020 contenders will try to pay a visit to the facility as early as Tuesday, even though it is unlikely they’ll be allowed in.
“The facility behind me is a federal facility,” MSNBC’s Cal Perry reported Tuesday. “Later today you will see presidential candidates arriving here, members of Congress, they will try to get into the facility and they will be denied access. It’s clearly something — “
Indeed, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) was the first to show up Tuesday afternoon.
Rep and Presidential candidate @ericswalwell outside Homestead detention facility. Facility holds thousands of unaccompanied migrant children. Congressman was denied access to the facility. Sound on #MSNBC #DemocraticDebate
— Cal Perry (@CalNBC) June 24, 2019
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are divided over how to handle the burgeoning humanitarian crisis on the border. Both houses of Congress now have draft bills in place, but the Senate bill, which is bipartisan, is clearly the administration’s preferred emergency spending bill. Even Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seems to be backing the $4.5 billion humanitarian aid measure, according to The Daily Caller, and met with “key Democrats” on Monday night to ensure that the bill has the support necessary to pass in the House.
But more liberal Representatives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have signaled that they will not support the bill over concerns that “any funds approved by Congress will be used by the Trump administration to continue its policy of detention and deportation.”
In other words, progressives are willing to take the chance of facilitating the humanitarian crisis they’ve decried over concerns that the United States has no plans to simply open the borders and operate under a “catch-and-release” policy, which assigns asylum court dates to asylum seekers and then releases them without supervision into border states.
Pelosi reportedly told The New York Times that she was pleased with the Congressional bill, which she believes supports detainees but not the overall detention program (even though the money goes directly to detention facilities housing the more than 100,000-plus migrants that are captured or turn themselves in at the border every month).
None of the 2020 Democratic contenders have taken a concrete position on the Congressional $4.5 billion emergency spending bill, but immigration is likely to be a hot topic during Wednesday and Thursday nights’ debates.