House Oversight Committee Launches Investigation Into Homestead Migrant Shelter

A scene at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children.
A scene at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. Photo by Monica McGivern
In recent weeks, the for-profit shelter in Homestead that houses thousands of migrant children has come under fire from multiple directions. Lawyers released dozens of affidavits from kids inside the facility who described being lonely, terrified, and even suicidal. Multiple presidential candidates visited the detention center while in town for the Democratic debates, and some — notably Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — called for the shelter to be shut down altogether after saying the children held there are being treated "like little prisoners."

Now the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has launched an investigation into the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. Yesterday the committee sent letters to three for-profit contractors in charge of running immigrant detention facilities, including DC Capital Partners, a firm that owns Caliburn International, which operates the children's shelter in Homestead. The letter wastes no time in pointing out that John Kelly — President Donald Trump's former White House chief of staff — serves on the board of directors for Caliburn.

"As a senior official in the Trump Administration, General Kelly helped develop and implement the Administration's child separation policy that resulted in thousands of children being placed in shelters — and now he appears to be reaping a financial reward from this cruel policy," the letter states.

The committee members go on to note that Caliburn subsidiary Comprehensive Health Services has received three government contracts totaling $545 million to run the Homestead facility. And the letter addresses numerous allegations of mismanagement at the facility, including a New Times story quoting former shelter employees who say they weren't properly trained to work with children.

As part of its investigation, the committee has asked DC Capital Partners to turn over a number of documents by July 24.

In response, a Caliburn spokeswoman issued a statement saying the company will use the opportunity to "dispel misapprehensions" about the Homestead facility.

"We welcome the inquiry as a chance to tell our story and dispel misapprehensions about the critical work we do taking care of the teenagers at the Homestead temporary emergency care shelter until they can be placed in a safe home during this unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S.," the company said today.

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Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.