Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced during a Florida town hall Tuesday that she would be visiting the prison camp for migrant children in Homestead, Florida, which currently jails 2,300 kids. The announcement came after an audience member, who said she was part of a group of advocates who have gathered outside Homestead for over 100 days now, urged her to visit.
“Just 20 miles away from here, in Homestead, there is a children’s prison,” she told Warren. “I’m not going to call it a temporary internment facility, I’m going to call it what it is: It is a prison … we need you there. We need your presence, to bring the press, and to bring your national attention.” Warren replied, “So I’m going to Homestead tomorrow—come with me.”
Attorneys who have interviewed children jailed there described "prison-like" rules, under which apparent violations—like taking too long a shower or not finishing their meals—may prolong their detention. "I wish I could leave Homestead and live with my aunt,” said “D.J.,” who had been at Homestead for 17 days as of last month. “She lives in Maryland and has been there for many years. I do not know when I can leave this place. I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”
Warren talked about a harrowing visit to a McAllen, Texas, border facility last year, where she witnessed “cage after cage after cage” of imprisoned moms and dads—and then she saw the children. “Just children, and they had nothing. They were on a concrete floor. They had aluminum foil blankets, and they were all just sitting. No books, no toys, nothing.”
Warren, who recently joined 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro in calling for the decriminalization of unauthorized border crossing, said “we have a right to hold our government accountable.” She also recently unveiled a plan to end private prisons, which often jail immigrants in cruel and inhumane conditions. ”We have to shut that down, and shut it down now.” And shut down Homestead.
Warren greets fellow protesters at Homestead:
A young activist describes what she saw at Homestead, and meeting Warren: