This is a picture the federal government provided.
This is a picture the federal government provided.
U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services/Flickr

Civil Rights Groups Plan March to Free the Children at Miami-Area Compound

This Saturday, June 23, civil rights groups from across the region will hold “March to Free the Children Held in Detention” in Homestead. At 4 p.m., they will meet at the corner of SW 288th Street and 137th Avenue and march to the compound, where as many as 1,000 migrant children are being held.

"What's happening right now, it's unprecedented, and it can't be allowed to stand," says Tomas Kennedy, the deputy political director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "It's brutal. It's barbaric. And it really is just a way of punishing people who are coming here in search of a better life."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz disclosed yesterday that the location was holding hundreds of children. It had been closed since 2016, but the federal government recently reopened the site, which is being run by a contractor for as much as $30 million.

Mariana Martinez, an organizer for the American Friends Service Committee, says the march will focus on President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” of separating children from their families at the border. According to the Washington Post, this policy has taken about 2,000 migrant children from their parents in the past 45 days.

"Now the main problem is that children are being separated at the border and then transferred here," Martinez says. "Why is that trafficking going on where children can get lost in the system?"

Under the Obama administration, the compound in Homestead was used to house unaccompanied minors, who spent an average of a month at the facility before they were sent back home or placed with sponsors. It was originally intended to hold no more than 800 children. An immigrant activist who spoke with New Times says the facility reopened “two months, three months” ago.

“The children shouldn't be held in these facilities for any more than a week,” Martinez says. “They should be reunited with families as soon as possible."

Organizers intend for the march to be a peaceful demonstration with guest speakers. Other groups planning the march include the Friends of Miami Dade Detainees, the ACLU of Florida, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Rise Up Florida, United We Dream, and the Women’s March of Florida.

"You know when people say you gotta do something before it's too late? It's already too late," Kennedy says. "The time to do something is now."

For more information, email info@floridaimmigrant.org.

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