Florida lawmakers blocked from entering facility holding migrant children

Florida lawmakers blocked from entering facility holding migrant children
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem campaign chairman expresses confidence over path to Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzLawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling GOP lawmaker 'outraged' after being denied entry to migrant children's shelter Right-wing conspiracy theories against ex-congressional IT staffer debunked in plea deal MORE (D-Fla.) on Tuesday were denied entry into a federal detention facility for migrant children in South Florida, the Associated Press reported.

Nelson accused the Trump administration of a “cover-up” after not being allowed to survey the living conditions of the contractor-run Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children.

“It is an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the lives and health of children are at stake,” Nelson said.

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The two Florida lawmakers had gone to the detention center after reports that it was receiving migrant children who entered the U.S. illegally.

According to Wasserman Schultz, the facility held about 1,000 children ages 13 to 17 who came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors or after being separated from their parents when detained at the border, according to the AP.

She noted that two other facilities were used to house younger children.   

She also said that her staff had spoken to the company that operated the center, Comprehensive Health Services, and had been told the lawmakers would be “welcomed warmly and allowed into the facility.”

However, Nelson said that Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan (R) had told him it would take two weeks to get access to the facility, the AP reported.  

“I think what they’re doing is a cover-up for the president,” Nelson said.

The facility is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and had reopened to house unaccompanied migrant children, an HHS spokesperson told the AP.

A growing number of lawmakers from both parties have condemned the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents.