Lawmakers barred from child migrant facility in Florida


HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson accused Trump administration officials of a "cover up" after officials denied him entry today to a detention center for migrant children in South Florida where he had hoped to survey living conditions.

Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Florida Democrats, went to the contractor-run Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children after reports it was receiving detained migrant children who had arrived in the country illegally.

Wasserman Schultz said the facility was being used for an estimated 1,000 children, aged 13 to 17, who arrived here as unaccompanied minors as well as children separated from their families at the border. She said two other facilities in South Florida were being used for younger children.

"It is an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the lives and health of children are at stake," Nelson said.

President Donald Trump's immigration policies have come under intense scrutiny after reports of the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Democrats and some Republicans are urging an end to the practice at the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands of children split from their families at the U.S. southern border are being held in government-run facilities.

Wasserman Schultz said her staff had spoken today with the Florida-based company, Comprehensive Health Services, contracted to run the facility. She said her staff was told the lawmakers would be "welcomed warmly and allowed into the facility."

But Nelson said Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan told him it would take two weeks for them to get access.

"I think what they're doing is a cover-up for the president," Nelson said.

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