Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson was denied entrance yesterday to a facility in Homestead, Florida, that houses some children who were separated from their families by immigration officials. In a speech on the Senate floor earlier today, Nelson relayed that a total of 174 such minors are being detained in Florida.
Nelson says he gained the information from the Department of Health and Human Service, which operates the facilities. They told Nelson that 94 of the approximately 1,000 minors at Homestead were separated from family members who allegedly tried to enter the country 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. He later clarified that the 94 figure is included within the 174.
The Obama administration opened the Homestead facility 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 blamed President Donald Trump for being shut out of the facility yesterday, and said that he was told he'd have to wait two weeks to visit the center to check on its conditions.
"The question is why do they not want the senator from Florida to get into this detention facility where there are children that have been separated from their parents,” he said. “It must be that … this is being directed from the president and 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."