A day after being denied access to a facility in Homestead that houses some children who were separated from their families by immigration enforcement officials, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said in a Senate floor speech that a total of 174 such minors are being housed across Florida.
Nelson said the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the facilities, told him that 94 of the approximately 1,000 minors at Homestead were separated from family members accused of trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
“I have subsequently found that in addition to those 94 children, there are 174 children being held in my state of Florida that have been separated from their families,” Nelson said. His office later clarified that the 174 figure includes the 94 at Homestead.
The Homestead facility opened under President Barack Obama in 2014 to house unaccompanied minors picked up at the border while trying to enter the U.S. The facility later closed, but was reopened in February.
Nelson said he was told he’d have to wait two weeks to visit the center in Homestead to check on the conditions there. He accused President Donald Trump of being behind the shutout.
“It must be that not only is this department policy, this is being directed from the White House, and they don’t want me to see it because they don’t want us to know what is going on in there,” Nelson said.