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The Biden administration has outraged a number of pro-immigration organizations that consider themselves White House allies over plans to reopen controversial juvenile migrant detention facility in Florida — a facility that immigration activists claim is rife with “cruelty” and “abuse.”
The Miami Herald reported last week that the Biden administration plans to reopen the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children under a new name, the “Biscayne Influx Care Facility.” Before being shuttered in 2019, the center was the target of pro-immigration and anti-detention protests over “harrowing testimonials” from children and teenagers housed at the center, according to CBS News, and was, at one point, the subject of litigation, with pro-immigration attorneys filing a 600-page motion detailing “dozens” of issues, including allegations of cruelty, abuse, and draconian disciplinary tactics.
The complaints about Homestead were so dire that, in 2019, Democrats competing to become the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee — including now-Vice President Kamala Harris — visited the facility ahead of a Democratic primary debate centering around immigration, deliberately held near the detention center.
“The Democratic candidates and campaign representatives who visited Homestead that summer — Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren, John Hickenlooper, Bill de Blasio, and Tulsi Gabbard, plus Bernie Sanders’ wife and adviser Jane — made some speeches, stood on ladders to get a look at the shelter behind a tall fence, and summoned the attention of national media outlets,” the Miami New Times noted in its report on the facility reopening under President Joe Biden.
Grassroots leaders in Florida say they are “appalled” by the Biden administration’s decision.
“This is not a place for children,” one activist claimed to the New Times. “This is a place that is going to be impossible to maintain COVID safety regulations. We’re already putting these children in danger.”
“To be quite frank, I am appalled that the Biden administration has chosen to reopen a detention camp where children have consistently faced abuse and neglect. No human being should ever be put in the type of danger that the Biden administration is actively choosing to put hundreds to thousands of children in right now,” a second prominent progressive wrote in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“ICE has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not value the humanity and dignity of immigrant families, and the announcement that they plan to re-open the for-profit immigration detention facility at Homestead is further evidence of that,” progressive Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) added to Newsweek. “At Homestead, children are reported to have gone hungry and cried themselves to sleep after being forcefully separated from their families—this is unacceptable.”
The Biden administration responded to criticism by saying they have not yet decided whether to send the dozens of unaccompanied minor children awaiting asylum processing to the Homestead center.
“A decision has not yet been made on the Biscayne Influx Care Facility,” Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber told Newsweek. “We will notify state and local officials well in advance of opening this or any other temporary influx care facility.”