Politicians Claim Horrid Conditions Outside Immigration Office

Politicians are calling for change in what some say are horrid conditions outside an immigration building in Miramar.

The line for people to get into the building tends to wrap around the block, leaving people standing outside for hours.

Political leaders are now trying to figure out a solution to make sure people standing in line get shelter from the hot sun, adequate water and restrooms for them to use while waiting.

“People are showing up in the middle of the night just to be able to get a parking spot and get in line early, and they literally stand here all day,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Many immigrants go to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Miramar for a mandatory “check-in” with the U.S. Government.

“I haven’t eaten breakfast and I haven’t had water all day, and I’m still here,” said one immigrant.

That woman told NBC 6 that she came from Homestead for a 7 a.m. appointment and waited until 3 p.m. to be seen. She lost an entire day of work, only to find out that she must return for another appointment in three months.

On top of the long lines, there are only 35 parking spots to accommodate the hundreds of people who visit the building each day.

“At some point, there was illegal towing taking place where folks were just coming here to check in and they had no place to park,” said Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar.

Messam says police are cracking down on the illegal towing.

On Thursday, he joined Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings to address the issues with ICE personnel.

“The mayor and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and I kept pressing them for a timeline they can provide shelter. We raised the issue of whether they can use portable toilets,” said Hastings.

“At the end of the day, some of the things they’ve raised are not unrealistic. There is some merit to the fact we are in South Florida. There is heat, there is rain. And where we can make those improvements, we should make those improvements,” said Marc Moore of ICE.

The issues began about a year ago, when immigration laws were becoming more strongly enforced.

“We are probably doing more out there in terms of law enforcement activity. But I also think there’s more people trying to access our services in terms of the non-detained environment,” said Moore.

“This is a federal issue but this is a local issue because the ICE facility is here in Miramar and its impacting our community and there’s a humane issue,” said Messam.

The Miami field office director for ICE told NBC 6 that people are allowed to use the restrooms and water fountains inside. But congressional leaders want to put water fountains and shade structures outside, along with additional parking.

The Miami field office director says he expects to see some changes in the next several months. 

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