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

A group of Democratic lawmakers announced Sunday that they will attempt to tour the Florida detention facility that they say turned them away.

Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences House panel advances bill to block military construction funds for border wall MOREDonna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster Dem lawmaker: Betsy DeVos is 'a nice person, but boy she really is confused' Dems brush off unemployment rate, say Hispanics will reject Trump in 2020 MORE and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellDisinvited GOP lawmaker turns up at Dem hearing Overnight 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 MORE will attempt to tour the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on Monday morning.

The congresswomen said in a joint statement on Saturday that they were "denied entry to the refugee resettlement facility in Homestead."

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Mucarsel-Powell and Shalala visited the shelter in February.

“During our last visit to Homestead, we witnessed children living in cramped, prison-like conditions,” the joint statement 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.”

"Denying entry to oversee the conditions and care provided to the unaccompanied children in the Homestead facility would not only be a breach of transparency and confidence in the care provided there, it would violate the law. ... Given long-held concerns about the Homestead facility’s lack of staffing, space, education and other services, the recent announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] that it will dramatically expand the number of beds there merits immediate scrutiny," the lawmakers added. 

"The Department’s initial refusal to allow entry there under these current circumstances is deeply troubling. Violating the law is never acceptable, and certainly not in this critical moment,” they said.

The congresswomen will address lawmakers Monday outside the facility whether they are granted access or not.

An HHS spokesperson told The Hill that most requests from members of Congress to visit facilities made two weeks in advance have been granted.

“We have had significant interest in facility visits. To ensure a facility visit does not interfere with the staff’s ability to provide for the safety, well-being, or privacy of unaccompanied alien children (UAC), especially during a period of high influx such as the present, we require a minimum two week notification for the facility visit,” they said.

“This has been HHS policy since 2015. It meets our current statutory obligation to provide members of Congress with facility access. Indeed, most members of Congress who have sought tours this year have worked with us collaboratively and without objection to schedule tours under the policy.”

--This report was updated on April 8 at 9:57 a.m.