Amid An Unrelenting Surge, Democrats Target Detention Centers



With the nation’s illegal immigration crisis reaching potentially catastrophic proportions, then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary  Kirstjen Nielsen issued a four-page memo in March seeking urgent congressional action.

“We need additional temporary facilities as soon as possible in order to process arriving aliens, especially those entering illegally between ports of entry,” wrote Nielsen.

“We are witnessing the real-time dissolution of the immigration system,” she added.

When the administration announced plans to expand bed-space at the one remaining temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida, lawmakers predictably vociferously opposed the move.

“Exploding the child detention population at a facility that is already inadequately staffed and regulated is cruel, irresponsible and invites neglect,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in an April 2 statement.

Wasserman Schultz was right in stating that increasing the number of beds from 1,350 to 2,350 would constitute a 140 percent increase in child bed capacity in just four months. What she failed to mention is there has been a 300 percent increase in apprehensions of people crossing as part of families compared with 2018.

Or that in a five-month period ending on Feb. 28, Border Patrol officers detained more than 268,000 illegal immigrants – and more than 76,000 were apprehended in February alone.

But rather than find a way to assist DHS, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), manage the influx, Wasserman-Schultz is content to complicate their job by seeking publicity and her political aims.

The lawmaker and two of her fellow Florida Democratic colleagues demanded access to the Homestead facility  under the auspices of oversight and when denied entry, they claimed HHS was violating the law.

In a joint statement, the congresswomen claimed being denied entry “would not only be a breach of transparency and confidence in the care provided there, it would violate the law.”

Their letter was followed by one from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar “demanding” he permit them to enter the Homestead facility as “their right as Members of Congress under the law we passed last year, signed by the President.”

The law to which they are referring is a provision included in last year’s HHS appropriations bill which prohibits funds “from being used to prevent a Member of Congress from entering, for the purpose of conducting oversight, any U.S. facility used for maintaining custody of or otherwise housing unaccompanied alien children.”

But funds were not being used in such a manner. HHS confirmed the members were denied access, but also provided context that the Democrats omitted.

“We have had significant interest for facility visits. To ensure a facility visit does not interfere with the safety and well-being of our [children], we require a minimum two-week notification at the convenience and availability of the facility. This has been policy since 2015,” read a statement from department to the Miami Herald.

“It meets our current statutory obligation to provide members of Congress with facility access. Indeed, most members of Congress who have sought tours this year have worked with us collaboratively and without objection to schedule tours under the policy,” added an HHS official.

With their visit denied, the congresswoman opted for second-best by holding a press conference outside the Homestead facility continuing to insist that no notification is required and that HHS is breaking the law.

But oversight is not really their aim. Closing down any and all detention centers is. In the tweeted words of Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the center must “comply with the spirit of the Flores settlement” otherwise “this facility must be shut down.”

In addition, Wasserman Schultz said upon her return to Washington, they would take legal action against the shelter for denial of access. Democrats claim to be engaged congressional oversight, but all they are doing is ensuring that the loopholes in immigration law creating the need for detention centers remain in place. And that will further burden an overwhelmed system and all who work in it, which is to the benefit of no one.

About Author

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

8 Comments

  1. avatar

    If we can’t keep them from crossing our border, I think the best solution yet is to send the illegals to sanctuary cities and the private homes of Liberals. They want them, they can have them!

    • avatar

      All the sanctuary cities will do is issue them drivers licences, welfare cards, free health care cards, and let them loose into the rest of the country since the sanctuary cities are already drowning in “homeless” and illegal aliens to support.

  2. avatar
    kenna dennis on

    Either congress doe’s their job or we will do it for them at the border with machine guns .

  3. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Send them to sancturary cities & states. Dems WANT Them despite public rhetoric.
    Or Dems change policies.

    • avatar

      I agree with the position that, since the democrats created sanctuary states and cities, all the “immigrants” should go to those locations, especially the cities, since there are areas of “sanctuary” states where illegal aliens (the correct legal term) are Not wanted. Also, the liberals, must be required to use their own homes and property to accommodate the illegal aliens with food, water, shelter, education, medical care, and so on, out of their own pockets, with no use of taxpayer money.

  4. avatar

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the same show boat con artist she has always been. She had to resign as head of the Democratic National Committee in July 2016 because she and her staff were fixing the primary race to favor Hillary over Bernie. If she and others were so worried about “inadequate staff” they would vote more money to relieve that overcrowding. Instead they want to grandstand.

  5. avatar

    There are 7.3 BILLION people on the planet. Of the seven billion who don’t live in the US, most live in massively overpopulated crap holes. Democrats want two or three BILLION of them to come here!

    • avatar
      Yazmin Linares on

      Your so absolutely RIGHT!! Why should we expand bed space for illegals it’ll just give them the message to keep on coming!! Hello, hell no!!