The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Aug. 4:
MIAMI (Tribune News Service) — The children at the Homestead Detention Center are gone.
But so many questions remain. The Trump administration was rarely upfront about the children’s treatment there, and we doubt that it will be forthcoming now.
n When was the decision made to remove the children?
n How was relocation expedited so quickly when the children had languished there up until last month?
n How many kids went to relatives or sponsors?
n Is the federal government still paying the for-profit company that runs the facility even though the children are gone and a majority of the employees laid off? President Trump’s ex-chief of staff, John Kelly, sits on its board.
The children and youths kept in Homestead arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors, on their own and without parents or adult guardians. Dozens of others were separated from their parents seeking asylum at the Southern border under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
As reported by Herald reporter Monique Madan, the children who remained at the detention center in Homestead all have been moved, relocated to other facilities for migrant youths or united with relatives or sponsors.
It’s curious that the federal government suddenly was able to expedite the kids’ relocation. The office of U.S Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell told the Editorial Board that, of all such facilities across the country, the children detained in Homestead stayed there the longest length of time.
Last month, there were about 3,000 children at the detention center.
Last week, the number had plummeted to under 500, the number mandated by safety regulations in case detainees had to be evacuated in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm.
The center was a focal point for controversy from the beginning: Many concerned elected officials and advocates consistently were denied entry into the facility, though others, finally, were allowed in to speak to some of the children detained there. There were frequent protests outside the facility. Mucarsel-Powell, who for months had taken the lead in seeking to shut down the center, called the conditions “prison-like.”
It also became a politically convenient backdrop for a few Democratic presidential candidates who made the trip to South Miami-Dade in June’s sweltering heat.
Ultimately, the privately run detention center became an example of all that was troubling about the nation’s failed immigration policies and the lack of transparency that has dogged the separation of children and parents from the beginning. Despite the obstacles and stonewalling, advocates for these children and teens must continue to push for answers.
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