Running a detention camp for migrant children taken from their parents is not great for PR. Two days after New Times broke news that the Trump administration had quietly sent more than 1,000 migrant children to a guarded compound in Homestead, Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola is threatening to ban one of the contractors running the facility, Comprehensive Health Services, from doing business in his city.
"Here's my letter to the chickenshit CEO of Comprehensive Health Services," Arriola wrote on Facebook yesterday afternoon. He added in the same post: "I hope other cities and counties follow suit and refuse to give any contracts to this company or others like it."
Yesterday Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to tour the facility but were denied access. During the press event, Wasserman Schultz said Comprehensive Health had initially said the lawmakers would be allowed inside, but it appeared someone at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal body running the facility, nixed those plans.
Later in the day, Nelson said he'd spoken to the Department of Health and Human Services, which confirmed that 94 children were inside the facility after immigration officials ripped them away from their parents. The United Nations says that policy violates international law. Amnesty International says the Trump-approved practice constitutes torture.
Comprehensive Health, which is based in Cape Canaveral, received a $600,000 tax-incentive package from Gov. Rick Scott's administration in July 2017. The award came five months after the company paid $3.8 million to settle claims it had defrauded the government by double-billing taxpayers for medical services. Comprehensive Health won a $30 million contract to operate at the Homestead complex this past February.
This Saturday, civil rights groups plan to march to the facility in protest. Now Arriola is mounting his own protest. In his letter, he told Comprehensive Health he was sponsoring legislation at the city level to ban the company from doing business in Miami Beach as long as politicians and inspectors are also banned from visiting the shelter. Arriola told New Times yesterday evening he had not yet
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"If we focus on the enablers of this cruel policy such as Comprehensive Health Services, we can launch a multi-pronged attack on the Trump administration — filing lawsuits and voting in upcoming elections are other ways," Arriola wrote online. "But in the interim, if we make the cost of doing business unbearable for these enablers, it will have an effect as well."
Via text, Arriola elaborated to New Times that he wants to ensure the kids at the facility are being taken care of "as if they were the children of the executives of this company."
Here's the full letter: