Homestead Detention Middle for Migrant Kids Closing – NBC 6 South Florida
The Trump administration announced Monday that it would shut down one of the largest U.S. facilities for migrant children, which had come under heavy criticism for its regulated conditions and the contractor’s ties to a recently deceased White House official.
The U.S. Department of Health announced in a statement that it has reduced bed capacity from 1,200 to zero and the contract with Comprehensive Health Services Inc. ends on November 30th. About 2,000 workers will be laid off days in the coming year.
The Homestead, Florida facility was emptied in August but remained operational in the event that youthful migrants crossing the US-Mexico border and remaining in government detention were unable to find shelter.
Health and Human Services said the decision to ditch beds was “to ensure fiscal prudence”. Last month, Jonathan Hayes, director of the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, said the facility would cost $ 720,000 a day to operate even if no children were left there.
In a letter to Congress, the administration informed lawmakers that the facility would go into a “warm state” with no beds but would retain access to the site if the number of migrant children increases.
A trial earlier this year alleged that the government had held migrant children in “prison-like conditions” for months, allowed limited phone calls and ordered them to adhere to strict rules or to impose longer terms.
The facility was massively expanded from 1,350 to 2,350 beds at the beginning of the year. In April, federal officials announced that the capacity for 3,200 children would increase due to an increase in migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.
Democratic presidential candidates turned the Miami area facility into a campaign freeze this summer when some 2,500 youths were detained there. They attacked the administration for holding children in a cramped detention center run by a private company affiliated with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly first announced that the US government is considering separating families who are migrating to prevent others from traveling north.
According to official figures, the Florida facility housed up to 140 children who were separated from their parents last year.
Three months after leaving the Trump administration in January, Kelly was spotted by demonstrators taking a golf cart touring the facility east of the Everglades. Authorities confirmed that he accessed the website on April 4 on behalf of Caliburn International Corp. who owns the contractor Comprehensive Health Services. Five days later, the company was awarded a $ 341 million no-bid contract stating that bed capacity must be increased immediately.
The company later publicly announced that Kelly had joined the board of directors. The year before Kelly joined the Trump administration, he was on the board of directors of Washington-based private equity firm DC Capital Partners, which bought Comprehensive Health Services and founded Caliburn by consolidating CHS and three other companies.
HHS officials said the contract with Comprehensive ends Nov. 30, but HHS will retain “temporary influx” access to the Homestead property.
Caliburn has a senior military officer in its executive suite who advised President Donald Trump during his first few months in office and a former Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
U.S. Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democratic legislature representing the district that includes the site, invited the 2020 field of Democratic candidates to visit the facility. Along with other lawmakers, Mucarsel-Powell has pressured a government surveillance agency to investigate Kelly’s role in the contract negotiations.
“Caliburn will no longer receive millions of dollars to run an empty facility,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Given the poor record of child abuse and neglect in Caliburn, as well as the sheer number of former civil servants now serving on Caliburn’s board of directors, this is a good first step in ending one of the many corrupt practices that this administration has carried out.