Lawrence to tour controversial Florida migrant detention facility

Brenda Lawrence
Brenda Lawrence

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) will join other members of Congress on Tuesday as part of a delegation visiting a migrant detention facility in Florida. 

Lawrence and seven other members of the Democratic House majority will tour the Homestead facility near Miami. Homestead currently houses about 2,600 unaccompanied minors, as noted by CBS News in their recent report on a tour of the center. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson
U.S. Rep. and Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson | Official photo

Joining Lawrence on the visit to Homestead are U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.); John Lewis (D-Ga.); Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); Katherine Clark (D-Mass.); Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.); Donna Shalala (D-Fla.); and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee. 

Reports of severe overcrowding and disease at migrant detention facilities, especially among children, have become national news in recent weeks. Three immigrants have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s custody since April

“I am simply appalled at the photos that are coming out of these detention centers that are holding migrant children,” Lawrence said in a statement announcing her visit. 

“The images of overcrowding, unhygienic and unsafe conditions these kids are forced to endure are simply deplorable,” Lawrence continued. “I must personally view this facility to ensure these children are being well cared for, not placed in cages, and that they are receiving any needed medical treatment.”

Last week, Lawrence was one of five members of Michigan’s congressional delegation to vote against a controversial $4.6 billion border aid spending bill that ultimately passed 305-102 with bipartisan support. Lawrence and others advocated for a version of the bill that would have included more restrictions on how the money could be used. 

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) voted against the bill, as well, saying on Twitter, “If you see the Senate bill as an option, then you don’t believe in basic human rights.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has as recently as April blocked congressional delegations from visiting the Homestead facility. 

Lawrence argued that such tours are a form of congressional oversight, saying in her statement that “The Trump Administration’s insistence on blocking members of Congress from obtaining information and entering these migrant camps must end.”

Nick Manes
Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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