By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
June 19, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Photos were released by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in 2016 that depict a facility in Homestead, Florida, which at the time housed hundreds of immigrant children.
The 1000 bed facility was shut down in 2017, but silently reopened earlier this year.
Democrats and faith leaders are blaming President Donald Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy on immigration.
“Children are being used as pawns. They're being held as hostage for one to negotiate a deal,” said Pastor Lee Johnson with Trinity United Presbyterian Church.
Maria Rodriguez migrated to the U.S. legally in 2000 from Columbia.
“My family was being persecuted by the FARC; the revolutionary armed forces in Columbia,” said Rodriguez.
While her journey was legal, she expressed extreme concern over the idea Florida is being used to detain immigrant children.
“How much lower can we go?” asked Rodriguez. “To what depths is this government going to go to try to prevent people from coming into the United States?”
Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is leading the call for Governor Rick Scott to intervene anyway he can.
“Go and talk to his friend Donald Trump and ask him to stop this process in Florida,” said Cruz. "We don't need to be a part of this.”
Governor Scott has denounced the separation of children from their families, but has stopped short of condemning President Trump’s immigration policies. He also sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, calling for the end of the "practice of separating children from their families." To view that full letter, click here.
Scott has no authority over the camp or its future, but he does have the President’s ear.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz attempted to tour the facility Tuesday morning, but were not cleared.
They’ll have to wait at least two weeks before they can enter.