Homestead Migrant Shelter No Longer Taking in New Children: Officials

11 members of Congress on Monday visited the facility

The migrant shelter in Homestead is no longer taking in new children, government officials said.

This was confirmed by Administration for Children and Families officials as 11 members of Congress on Monday visited the facility, which is currently housing around 1,300 children.

The group, many a part of a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, learned around 1,000 children have been transferred out of the facility within the past couple of weeks.

Their whereabouts, lawmakers said, are unclear.

"Are they reunited with a family? Or are they simply at another shelter?" Connecticut U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro questioned at a news conference.

Advocates have complained that the Department of Health and Human Services' largest holding centers— the facility in Homestead, a converted Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, and a now-closed tent camp at Tornillo, Texas— have traumatized children through overcrowding and inadequate staffing.

After Monday's tour, some lawmakers felt the conditions were adequate, but lacked privacy. But they also felt what they saw during planned tour would not be a genuine look at the conditions of the facility compared to what they would see in an unannounced visit. 

Florida U.S. Rep. and former governor Charlie Crist questioned the facility's learning environment.

"It is a joke, I mean you couldn't hear yourself think in that place," Crist said. "I don't see how any child can learn anything in that kind of environment."

The private company that runs the site has said it provides "vulnerable, unaccompanied youth people" with shelter and services, including classes, recreation and medical care.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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