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Children line up to enter a tent at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida, Feb. 19, 2019. Photo: AP
Children line up to enter a tent at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida. Feb. 19, 2019. Photo: AP.

Democrats remind the country of the reality in migrant detention centers

During a visit to one of the largest immigrant detention facilities in the country, a delegation of Democrats from the House of Representatives showed that, in…

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News in the Trump era ebbs furiously into view, and flows right back out just as quickly.

For months now, the media's focus has been on such issues as the president's ongoing feud with Democrats in Congress, the Mueller investigation or the border wall. Meanwhile, the critical situation surrounding undocumented and detained immigrant children on U.S. soil hasn't gone anywhere.

However, on Tuesday, a delegation of Democratic House representatives visited the Homestead Temporary Shelter 25 miles south of Miami, considered one of the largest detention centers in the country, and which “is under scrutiny because it is the only one in the U.S. run by a for-profit corporation and, as a federal facility, it is not subject to state regulations,” NBC News reported.

What the representatives Joaquín Castro, Sylvia García, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala witnessed was nothing short of shocking.

"As a mother, it was very difficult to watch. It has a prison-like feel," said Mucarsel-Powell, a new congresswoman from the state of Florida.

"What I did not see - and this is a message for the Trump administration – I did not see criminals, I did not see gang members. I saw kids who have hope that this country will welcome them," she added.

According to a previous report by the AP, the shelter has recently been expanded, and now houses approximately 150 teenage immigrants who "sleep in rows of bunk beds in a large windowless room and use portable toilets housed in adjacent tents."

The scenario the AP describes is worthy of a horror movie.

“The children wore badges and walked in groups of 10 to 15 in single file, usually led by a uniformed employee who would frequently order them to stop so they didn’t come across other groups while trying to enter buildings,” said AP. “Some said ‘hello,’ and a group of girls in pink sweatshirts offered a ‘good morning’ in English and Spanish, but others avoided eye contact.”

Homestead has become the new symbol of immigration cruelty in the country, emerging after the closure of the controversial detention center in Tornillo, TX.

The more than 2,700 undocumented children who were detained in Tornillo were redistributed throughout the U.S., and the center in Miami is "the only temporary facility in use," Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber, told NBC.

However, new reports from activists and legislators have reported that Homestead "does not comply with state child welfare laws."

Previous investigations had established the history of risk and insecurity within government detention centers, where background checks weren't even being conducted when hiring employees.

More than a year after the implementation of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, more than 14,000 children are still detained, thousands of families remain separated, and several immigrants have died at the hands of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

Meanwhile, presidential candidates have dominated headlines, and the White House remains fixated on building walls and dodging investigations.

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