Biden Might Reopen a Child Migrant Shelter With a Troubling Past of Sexual Abuse Allegations – By Isabela Dias (Mother Jones) / Mar 4 2021
Also: It’s next to a Superfund site.
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On June 28, 2019, then-Sen. Kamala Harris visited the Homestead temporary shelter for migrant children in South Florida. The facility had been in the news following shocking allegations of sexual abuse and prisonlike conditions, and Harris was in town with several other Democratic presidential candidates to denounce the site and the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies. Detaining children, particularly in such dire conditions, “is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government,” she told a small crowd. Harris later described seeing “children lined up like prisoners” as heartbreaking.
A few months later, Homestead shut down under mounting public pressure. Thousands of children and teenagers had passed through over roughly two years; at the time of its closure, it was the country’s largest for-profit temporary holding facility for unaccompanied minors, who are placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement after being apprehended at the border. Despite the fact that the Trump administration terminated its contract with the company running the facility, advocates were wary: The feds had kept Homestead in “warm status,” meaning it could be reactivated at any time.
“That place has a history of all kinds of abuse and profiting off the lock-up of children.”
Now, faced with a sharp increase of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, the Biden administration is considering doing just that. The Miami Herald reported that the feds might reopen the Homestead site under the name Biscayne Influx Care Facility, an announcement that has caused outrage among advocates working towards ending the detention of children altogether. “That place has a history of all kinds of abuse and profiting off the lock-up of children,” said Lis-Marie Alvarado, program director of the Miami-based organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which led the call for Homestead’s closure in 2019. A move to reopen the facility is “appalling and a slap to our faces,” she said.