2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children

2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children
© Aaron Schwartz

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have said they plan to visit a facility in Homestead, Fla., where migrant children are being held as the 2020 candidates prepare for the first primary debates in Miami this week.

Their visits to the facility come amid renewed scrutiny over the treatment of migrant children in the custody of the U.S. government after attorneys told The Associated Press about filthy, dangerous conditions in which children were being held at a border facility in Clint, Texas. 

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As of June 16, some 2,450 unaccompanied migrant children between the ages of 13 and 17 were being held at the Homestead facility, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fact sheet.

Democratic candidates including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe MORE (Minn.), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week MORE (Calif.) and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — GOP, Democrats square off at final impeachment hearing Marianne Williamson roasted for claim Trump pardoned Charles Manson Democrats take in lobbying industry cash despite pledges MORE said they would visit the facility this week.

Warren and Klobuchar are appearing in the presidential debate Wednesday night, while Swalwell and Williamson are in Thursday night's event. 

Warren said she saw children being marched "like little soldiers" in single file with guards when she went to the migrant shelter on Wednesday.

“There weren’t children playing. There weren’t children laughing the way children usually do when they’re moving from one place to another. There were children who were being marched like little soldiers, like little prisoners,” she said.  

Spokesmen for Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Julián Castro jabs ICE: 'Delete your account' Pelosi endorses Christy Smith in bid to replace Katie Hill MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 Krystal Ball warns about lagging youth support for Buttigieg MORE — who both are set to appear in the debate Thursday night — told The Hill in statements that they will also visit the facility on Friday morning. 

The Hill has reached out for comment to HHS’s Administration for Children and Families.

Tetiana Anderson, a spokeswoman for Caliburn International, which operates the Homestead center, told The Hill in a statement that visitors to the facility are welcome, but they first have to register with the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which can take up to 14 days. 

"The Homestead facility is fully transparent, allowing visitations from religious groups, congressional delegations, local government groups, consular officials and the media that have secured HHS ORR prior approval," Anderson said. 

A group of House Democrats visited the facility in February and called it “chilling.”

Twenty of the more than two dozen candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will face off in the debates on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

— Updated at 3:28 p.m.