Nearly 48 hours after New Times first reported that the federal government had quietly reopened a child-migrant compound outside Miami and placed an estimated 1,000 kids there, the U.S. representative from the district where the facility stands says he is "troubled" by the fact that other sitting lawmakers were rejected from entering the facility.
"Representative Curbelo is continuing to demand answers, and finds it troubling that federal elected officials seeking answers were turned away from the facility today," his spokesperson, Joanna Rodrigeuez, told the Miami Herald.
Curbelo, a self-styled moderate Republican who has repeatedly tried to paint himself as a compassionate fighter for immigrants, has tweeted that he disagrees with Trump's policy of separating children from their parents at the border (a policy condemned by the United Nations as illegal and a practice Amnesty International calls "torture").
The congressman is also pushing an immigration-overhaul bill that would prevent the U.S. government from separating children from their parents and instead encourage immigration agents to detain migrant families together. The bill would also severely restrict legal immigration, fund Trump's inane border wall, and make applying for asylum significantly more difficult for people fleeing persecution. The bill also would, technically, provide a path to citizenship for some of the so-called Dreamers but would judge those children and teens based on things such as English proficiency, employment status, and criminal history before letting them apply for citizenship.
Curbelo issued a separate statement yesterday urging Congress to pass his "compromise" bill, but his statement did not address the migrant camp operating inside his district. WPLG yesterday also obtained footage from D.C. that shows Rep. Juan Vargas ambushing Curbelo in front of a gaggle of reporters. In response, Curbelo sheepishly said he wished people were this upset when immigration issues arose under President Obama. Vargas said he was upset with Obama as well and accused Curbelo of lying.
However, Trump has already promised to veto the so-called immigration-compromise bill that Curbelo helped draft. Even with the severe cuts to legal immigration included in the bill, Trump has claimed the measure is too kind to immigrants.
The separation of children from parents is always a tragedy. While some tolerated it when it happened under the previous administration, I found it unacceptable then & I find it unacceptable now. We’re crafting legislation to remedy this sad situation https://t.co/bEGAqNByRP— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) June 17, 2018
Sen. Marco Rubio has not said a peep about the migrant facility in his home state. Over the weekend, he actually defended Trump's child-torture policies before trying to weakly backtrack and, per the standard Rubio playbook, blame problems on "both sides." Rubio finally tweeted late yesterday that he would likely support a standalone Senate bill outlawing family separation.
Gov. Rick Scott fired off a letter last night to the Department of Health and Human Services that somehow blamed Democrats for problems at the border. Scott's letter noted that members of C
In letter to HHS secretary re: family separation & immigrant kid detention lockup in FL, Gov. Rick Scott wants— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) June 19, 2018
1 notification of kids in or moved to FL
2 to make sure HHS is health screening at border & again in shelters
3 to know about health education, social services pic.twitter.com/3NJEja7x4c
Scott's administration in 2017 gave one of the contractors that now runs the facility a $600,000 tax-incentive package. The company, Comprehensive Health Services, paid $3.8 million to the Department of Justice to settle claims it had overcharged taxpayers for medical services. Comprehensive Health began operating at the Homestead complex this past February.
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Other local officials have been far more vocal. This morning, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho sent a letter to the Trump administration admonishing it for opening the facility in secret. Carvalho said his district, which typically helps educate unaccompanied minors, "should at least provide these children with the dignity of some connection with caring adults and access to educational services."
Florida's Democrats have also been vocal in protesting the center. Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a media event outside the facility yesterday and tried to tour the compound. In an insane twist, the federal government prevented them from entering the de facto child prison. Nelson and Wasserman Schultz also disclosed that two smaller
"The administration’s action today to deny us access to their Homestead, Florida facility where they are holding 1,000 migrant children is against EVERYTHING that we as a country stand for," Nelson tweeted yesterday. "They ought to be ashamed of themselves."
Correction: This story previously reported that Curbelo had not yet addressed the migrant facility in his district. In fact, he issued a statement about being "concerned" about the facility rejecting access to other lawmakers Tuesday.