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. 

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 WarrenBiden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE (Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharRepublicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Washington keeps close eye as Apple antitrust fight goes to court Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (Minn.), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting MORE (Calif.) and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson: Refusal to hike minimum wage is part of 'rigged economy' Rush Limbaugh dead at 70 Marianne Williamson discusses America's "soulless ethos" 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 HarrisCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Nearly half of women say they're more stressed amid pandemic: survey Alabama museum unveils restored Greyhound bus for Freedom Rides' 60th anniversary MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration in talks with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti for India ambassador post: reports Business groups target moderate Democrats on Biden tax plans Biden plugs infrastructure with a personal favorite: Amtrak 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.