Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children is a migrant children's detention center in Homestead, Florida. The center is currently being run by Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (CHSi), which is a subsidiary of the homeland security firm and private prison operator Caliburn International. It is believed to be the only for-profit child detention center for migrants.
The Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children is located in Homestead, Florida and can accommodate up to 3,200 minor immigrants to the United States. The Homestead Shelter was the first in South Florida to house unaccompanied minor immigrants. It is located in a former Job Corps building on the Homestead Air Reserve Base and it is surrounded by tall fencing with security checkpoints. Minors in the shelter are provided with meals, snacks, medical care, recreation time and classes. The shelter is currently being operated by Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (CHSi) and is being used to house minors between the ages of 13 and 17. Starting in mid-April 2018, CHSi began to advertise around 40 new positions in Homestead.
As of January 2019, Caliburn International, a homeland security consulting firm known for operating private prisons, of which CHSi is a subsidiary, has faced criticism from local media for their role, particularly since former Trump Secretary of Homeland Security and Chief of Staff John Kelly was a former lobbyist for DC Capital Partners, which created Caliban in 2018. Kelly waa seen in April 2019 touring the facility on a golf cart, and he has joined the Caliburn board of directors. Several former high-ranking military personnel serve on the board, such as Anthony Zinni, James G. Stavridis, and Kathleen L. Martin.
In 2017, the shelter was shut down when there was no longer a need to house unaccompanied minors, but in early 2018, the shelter was reopened "without public notice." In February 2018, CHSi won a $30 million government contract to run the shelter. While most of the minors in the Homestead shelter crossed the border unaccompanied, in 2018, 94 were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration family separation policy. On June 22, 2018, government officials were allowed to tour the facilities which had 782 boys and 387 girls on the premises. On average, minors remain in the shelter for around 25 days before they are placed in homes of family or friends who live in the U.S. This is despite current immigration laws that limit detention to only 20 days. Despite being contractually obligated to close on April 20, the facility will remain open until at least October.
In July 2018, one detainee, a 15-year-old girl from Honduras, escaped from facility workers and was found hiding in a nearby mechanic's shop. Police located her and returned her to the facility. Reports about the incident referred to the facility as a "child prison."
Protesters who were upset about the Trump administration family separation policy demonstrated in front of the Homestead shelter on June 20, 2018. The previous day, Democratic politicians, state representative, Kionne McGhee, Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were denied entry to the shelter which led to protesters "accusing the Trump administration of trying to cover up mistreatment." Senator Marco Rubio was allowed to visit Homestead on June 22, though he did not describe what he saw. Demonstrations continued in 2019, with Congresswomen Schultz, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and Donna Shalala being refused entry into the facility by the Department of Health and Human Services in April, despite their having the legal authority to demand entry. A protest campaign by local churches has been ongoing since February 20, 2019, with nearly 100 protesters gathered on April 19.
A government watchdog agency, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is looking into allegations of sex abuse and extortion in the Homestead shelter. A worker has been charged with attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity and attempted production of child pornography.
- Welch, Leecia; Law, National Center for Youth. "Inside The Largest And Most Controversial Shelter For Migrant Children In The U.S." NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- Hanks, Douglas; Medina, Brenda (18 June 2018). "Up to 1,000 children held by immigration authorities now living in Homestead compound". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Burnett, John (January 4, 2019). "Tent City Housing Migrant Children To Close As Kids Are Released To Sponsors". NPR News. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- Madan, Monique O. (26 June 2016). "An inside look at what happens to children after crossing the U.S. border". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Iannelli, Jerry (2018-06-20). "Miami Beach Commissioner Threatens to Ban Child-Migrant Contractor From City Business". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- McCarthy, John. "Cape Canaveral company runs Homestead facility housing 1,000 migrant children". Florida Today. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- LaGrone, Katie (2018-06-22). "Job postings may shed light on life for unaccompanied migrant children at Homestead shelter". WFTS. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Iannelli, Jerry (2019-03-05). "Homestead Contractor Cancels Stock-Investment Plan After New Times Story, Media Scrutiny". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
- Dec 4, Joe Panettieri •; 2018 (2018-12-05). "Caliburn Prepares IPO, Pursues IT Services Provider Acquisitions". ChannelE2E. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- By. "Good Friday brings protests, but no apparent changes, at shelter for migrant youths". miamiherald. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- "John Kelly joins board of company operating largest shelter for unaccompanied migrant children". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- Wright, Madeleine. "Protesters gather outside Homestead Temporary Shelter for..." Local 10 News. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Fox, Ben (22 June 2018). "Rubio, journalists tour center for migrant children in Homestead". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Withers, Scott (2018-06-22). "Reporter's Notebook: Inside a Florida shelter for immigrant children". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- "Trump administration seeks rule change to allow immigrant children to be detained for longer than 20 days". Dallas News. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- "Immigrant girl escapes Homestead detention center — and then found hiding in an auto shop". miamiherald. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Swisher, Skyler (28 June 2018). "Watchdog to scrutinize shelters for migrant kids, including 3 in South Florida". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Madan, Monique O. (2019-04-09). "Trump blocks three Florida congresswomen from visiting Homestead child detention center". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
- Madan, Monique O.; Wieder, Ben (2019-04-19). "Good Friday brings protests, but no apparent changes, at shelter for migrant youths". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
- Iannelli, Jerry (2018-11-04). "Five Awful Stories About Miami's Child-Migrant Compound". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2019-01-18.