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 WarrenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Warren, Yang fight over automation divides experts Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE (Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDeVos calls Democratic presidential hopeful's education plans 'crazy' Senate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE (Minn.), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMulvaney admission deals blow to White House impeachment defense Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump MORE (Calif.) and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 'We lost a giant': 2020 Democrats mourn the death of Elijah Cummings Williamson slams DNC, Tuesday's debate: 'This would all be funny if it weren't so dangerous' 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 HarrisWarren says she will unveil plan to finance 'Medicare for All' Kamala Harris reacts to supporter who got tattoo of her handwriting Even with likely Trump impeachment, Democrats face uphill climb to win presidency MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision Buttigieg says he wasn't comfortable with Clinton attack on Gabbard Buttigieg: Trump undermining US credibility 'is going to cost us for years and years' 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.