Homestead, Florida, Detention Heart: Protesters in South Florida need the detention middle closed to kids

Homestead, Florida – Dozens of people protested Sunday outside a facility in South Florida that has become the largest place in the country for the detention of immigrant children. A coalition of religious groups and immigrant lawyers said they wanted the Homestead detention center to be closed.

The protesters held signs that read “Houses instead!” and “Stop Separating Families” when they hit the drums and sang civil rights-era protest songs.

“Turn it off! Turn it off!” yelled protesters.

Lucy Duncan, an officer with the American Friends Service Committee, asked the protesters for a moment of silence to remember children who did so died in federal custodybut not in the Homestead facility. She poured water into a potted plant when each of the seven names was read.

“It’s a moral outrage,” said Duncan. “We need justice to break through. We have to remember these names.”

Organizer Kristin Kumpf said 800 people from 22 countries signed up for the protest on Father’s Day.

The organization regularly posted pictures of the scene on Sunday on their Twitter account:

We sing more pictures of the children moving from tent to tent: “We see you, we love you.” #ShutDownHomesteadDetentionCenter #EndChildDetention pic.twitter.com/u37zNRJdDF

– AFSC (@afsc_org) June 16, 2019

Immigrant attorneys have filed legal documents compelling President Trump’s administration to do so Quickly release immigrant children from the internment camp in Florida, which, according to official information, could accommodate up to 3,200 young people with a migration background in April.

Proponents accuse the government of violating a decade-old settlement that requires immigrant children to be immediately released to relatives or other godparents or sent to childcare facilities.

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Children seen in a screenshot of a video provided by DHSS in Homestead, Florida.

Ministry of Health and Human Services

CBS News has previously covered the sadness, confusion, anxiety and fear children have described at the Homestead facility, as spelled out in dozens of reports Testimonials submitted by attorneys May 31 in the US District Court for the Central District of California on a 600-page motion. They argue that the Homestead facility is in violation of the Flores Agreement, a landmark regulation that sets rules for the care of unaccompanied migrant children by the federal government.

The lawyers interviewed children in Homestead in November 2018 and March 2019. They say they have been incarcerated for too long, “harmed by lengthy incarceration in Homestead,” and subject to “prison-like” rules. The lawyers and children fear that breaking simple rules – duration of shower, hugging or touching their own siblings, not finishing meals – could reduce their chances of their families being released.

Lawyers have called for children in Homestead to be moved to other licensed facilities or to be quickly placed with sponsored families. The country’s more than 160 licensed accommodations for unaccompanied children are subject to inspections by state child protection agencies. Homestead is not licensed by the Florida authorities for childcare because it is located in the state and is not subject to state inspections.

The Flores Agreement requires that children be placed in a licensed facility “as soon as possible” and that officials make “immediate and continuous efforts” to transfer them to family members.

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Teens are seen at the nation’s largest detention center for unaccompanied migrant children on February 27, 2019 in Homestead, Florida, a temporary refuge operated by the U.S. Department of Health.

Graham Kates / CBS News


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