Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center

Florida Democratic Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOvernight Energy: Trump moves to crack down on Iranian oil exports | Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast | Bloomberg donates .5M to Paris deal Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast Wasserman Schultz: 'We need a President, not a comic book villain' MORE, Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaAnti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age Overnight Health Care: CEO of largest private health insurer slams 'Medicare for All' plans | Dem bill targets youth tobacco use | CVS fined over fake painkiller prescriptions | Trump, first lady to discuss opioid crisis at summit House Dems unveil legislation aimed at curbing youth tobacco use MORE and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellOvernight Energy: Trump moves to crack down on Iranian oil exports | Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast | Bloomberg donates .5M to Paris deal Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast Dems unveil anti-workplace harassment bill MORE said they were denied access to a facility holding unaccompanied immigrant children. 

The members of Congress said in a joint statement from their offices that they were told they would be "denied entry to the refugee resettlement facility in Homestead, [Fla.]," which they planned to visit Monday, "despite a new law mandating Congressional access there, and a recent announcement of plans to massively expand beds at the site amid lingering concerns over inadequate staffing, space and other services there."

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In their statement, the lawmakers also expressed concerns about the facility.

"During our last visit to Homestead, we witnessed children living in cramped, prison-like conditions," they said. "The idea to force even more children into an already full detention facility is not only unsafe, but is cruel and violates basic tenets of human decency." 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed the denial of the lawmakers' visit in a statement to The Hill.

“We have had significant interest for facility visits. To ensure a facility visit does not interfere with the safety and well-being of our [children], we require a minimum two-week notification at the convenience and availability of the facility. This has been policy since 2015,” the department said.

The Hill has also reached out to the Office of Refugee Resettlement for comment. 

HHS announced last Monday that it would expand the number of beds at the Homestead facility from 2,350 to 3,200 beginning in mid-April. 

Wasserman Schultz and then-Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (D-Fla.) were previously denied entry to the facility.  

--This report was updated on April 8 at 10:20 a.m.

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Dem lawmakers will attempt tour of detention facility they say turned them away