Largest migrant children's shelter to shutter at end of November

Largest migrant children's shelter to shutter at end of November
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A private military contractor running the only for-profit migrant children’s shelter in the country will not have its contract renewed, the Trump administration confirmed Monday.

The contract with Caliburn International, which operates the massive Homestead Shelter in Florida, will end Nov. 30, and the facility will be essentially shuttered. 

However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the shelter is being placed on “warm status,” which means the agency will retain access to the Homestead site and could reopen it for temporary use in the future in the event of an increase in unaccompanied child referrals or an emergency situation.

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“In our ongoing efforts to ensure fiscal prudence, following a sustained decrease in referrals, HHS operations at the Homestead Temporary Influx facility will be transitioned into warm status effective immediately,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill. 

“HHS will retain site access to ensure continuity of operations, however current bed capacity will be reduced to zero. Staff at the facility will be released over the course of the next 5 to 7 days,” the agency said. 

Homestead is the country's largest “influx” shelter, which houses children who cross the border without parents or family until they can be placed with a sponsor in the U.S. It was meant to only house children for a few days, but many ended up staying for weeks or longer.

It has drawn the ire of congressional Democrats and Democratic presidential candidates.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Seven takeaways from California's recall election Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate MORE (D-Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants MORE (I-Vt.), all 2020 contenders, each visited the facility while in Miami for the first round of Democratic primary debates. Sanders and Warren notably climbed ladders to try to look over the fence. 

The facility has not accepted any new unaccompanied children since July. In August, the agency reduced capacity from 2,700 beds to 1,200 beds. 

According to HHS, 14,300 children were housed at the Homestead detention center from March 2018 until August. The facility was also open during an immigration surge from June 2016 until April 2017, when it housed 8,500 children during that time.

Caliburn did not return a request for comment. The company has come under fire from activists and lawmakers who objected to a for-profit, private prison contractor running a children’s shelter at taxpayer expense. 

Congressional Democrats have also criticized the company for hiring former Trump White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE to serve on its board of directors.