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South Florida Legislators Tour Homestead Facility Holding Immigrant Children

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A bipartisan mix of elected officials finally made their way into the Homestead detention facility where children are being held by immigration.

The legislators had been waiting for a month.

"We were able to see this today, children receiving medical care, children being taught English, counselors available to them, children playing," said Republican US Congressman Carlos Curbelo.

Curbelo toured the facility with Democrat State Senators Jose Javier Rodriguez and Annette Taddeo.

They report 1,313 children are being held at the facility, that's up 200 from last month. 114 were separated from their parents at the border. And 37 have been reunified.

"The fact that only 37 of the 114 have been reunited still raises a question of how much of a resource priority is it to reunify these kids," noted State Senator Rodriguez.

State Senator Annette Taddeo wanted to drop-off toys, but could not leave them at the Homestead Facility, instead, she gave them to a private center in Cutler Bay.

She noted part of her tour in Homestead was emotional.

"I did witness one girl talking on the phone, she was wiping away tears and that for me was the moment where it was very difficult to watch," said State Sen. Taddeo.

Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to immigration advocates.

"It's outrageous that the legislative branch of government run by Republicans essentially has lost their spine," she said.

Advocates told her they're concerned about children being separated from parents here. "We had a client who was arrested after going to pay a traffic ticket and turned over to ICE," explained Andrea Montavon-Mckillip from Legal Services of Broward. "She's been separated from her young US citizen children for over a month now."

Catholic Legal Services says the problem will get worse soon for half a million children.

Temporary protected status ends soon for many Haitians and Central Americans who have been here for years.

"Their parents will be without protection when those programs end, will be amenable to deportation and those kids could face the prospect of being separated from their moms and dads, their US citizen children," said Randy McGrorty.

For children separated at the border, a court ordered that they will be reunited with their parents by next Thursday.

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