Protest Calls for Closing Homestead Center for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Protest Calls for Closing Homestead Center for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Hundreds of activists plan to rally this morning to shut down the Homestead Detention Center for unaccompanied minors.

The center, the only one of its type in the nation, will soon — or maybe already has — double in capacity to 2,350, as a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, is closed down. The activists contend the number is more like 3,000. Although those who run the shelter say many occupants have been ripped away from their parents during immigration raids, administrators contend the kids came to the U.S. without immediate family and that they are searching for places to hold them.

Organizers are calling for the center, which is run by a for-profit company, to be closed, for children to be reunited with their families, and for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to commit to not using shelters like Homestead, which they say is much like prison and damages residents.

Kids housed there are ages 13 to 17. While there is a soccer field and classrooms, Leecia Welch, senior director of legal advocacy and child welfare at the National Center for Youth Law, recently told NPR, "We see extremely traumatized children, some of whom sit across from us and can't stop crying over what they're experiencing."

Speakers at today's 10:30 a.m. rally planned for 470 Bougainville Blvd., outside the center, include Mariana Martinez, American Friends Service Committee; Thomas Kennedy, Florida Immigration Coalition; Guadalupe De La Cruz, WeCount!; Elvira Carvajal, Farmworkers Association of Florida; Maria Bilbao, United We Dream; Dian Alarcon, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; and Dr. Ashmeet Oberoi and Dr. Dorita Marina of the  University of Miami.

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