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.

“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 Jean Klobuchar 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal MORE (D-Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Following school shooting, Biden speaks out: 'We have to protect these kids' MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings 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.