Immigrant child escapes Florida detention center, hides in auto shop: report
An immigrant girl being detained in a Florida facility briefly escaped and hid in an auto shop on Friday, The Washington Post reported.
The 15-year-old Honduran immigrant had been held at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children for about three weeks, when she ran away during a trip to an eye doctor, the paper reported.
“They were transporting the child to an eye exam, and when they opened the door and started walking in, she just took off on them,” Homestead, Fla., police spokesman Fernando Morales told the Post.
The girl ran into Gonzalez Auto Center in Homestead, hiding in a corner and refusing to leave, owner Frank Gonzalez said.
“We were giving her water and some food, but she stayed in that corner the whole time,” mechanic Elvis Lopez told the Post. “She seemed pretty scared. She kept saying she didn’t want to go back.”
Gonzalez told the outlet that he called his sister Bertha Lopez to talk to the girl. Lopez said the girl said she was alone and had no family.
Lopez then reportedly got in touch with an immigration advocate, who said her local nonprofit could help the girl get a lawyer.
Gonzalez said police began driving by the shop, and that he flagged an officer down and showed police where the girl was hiding in his shop.
“She said, ‘Please don’t punish me, don’t touch me, don’t hold my hand,’ ” Gonzales said the girl told police. “They put handcuffs on her, but not like a criminal, like a human being.”
Police said she returned to the detention facility without incident. The center houses roughly 1,200 immigrant children and has been home to recent protests centered on President Trump’s immigration policies.
A supporter of Trump, Gonzalez told the Post that he did not support the Trump administration’s past “zero tolerance” policy of separating immigrant families at the border. Trump signed an executive order last month to end the practice after facing immense bipartisan backlash.
Gonzalez said he does largely back Trump on immigration, saying, “Let’s make America great again.”
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