Groups of activists celebrated Monday that US authorities have emptied the facilities of the juvenile detention center in Homestead, in South Florida, but warned that the “problem is not over.”
In a press conference held outside the center, located about 48 kilometers south of Miami, activists in favor of immigrants called “victory” and “a step forward” that minors who were held in Homestead no longer be there
“Over 3,200 children were held here at the Homestead Detention Center more than two months ago and today there are none left,” said Mariana Martínez, of the We Count! Group, who nevertheless pointed out that her work “is not over” and that will keep fighting to stop the separation of immigrant families.
Last Saturday, a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services of the Government informed that all the children who were in this center, who was the oldest in the country to accommodate Unaccompanied Foreign Children (UAC), have been reunited with their families or relatives or have been housed in other smaller state facilities.
After several media published information in this regard, Evelyn Stauffer, a spokesman for HHS, confirmed in the statement that the so-called “shelter” of Homestead was empty, which has been at the center of public attention since it opened in March 2018.
In the press conference on Monday, Paula Muñoz, of the Florida Immigrant Coalition group, said that when she arrived in the United States at age 7 as an asylum seeker she was separated from her mother and criticized in that sense that undocumented children pass “the emotions and traumas while they are in these detention camps.”
“It should not be a requirement that they be separated from their families. We will continue to fight and organize until they stop separating families,” said the activist.
In turn, María Bilbao, from United We Dream, highlighted that as for months they have asked the current Administration of President Donald Trump to close Homestead “and all these camps”, they have also demanded the reunification of families migrants separated at the border.
The Homestead center, with a capacity to accommodate 3,200 children at a time and operated by a private company, Comprehensive Health Services, owned by Caliburn International, was questioned by pro-immigrant organizations and Democratic legislators who visited it last June and asked for its closure.
According to HHS, since March 2018 there have been more than 14,300 children and adolescents who entered the United States irregularly without adults to take care of them.
On July 30th, it was learned by a congresswoman from central Florida, Anna Eskamani, that the Donald Trump government was exploring the possibility of renting state property in Florida, Virginia and California as a “permanent refuge” for UACs in the future.