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Wasserman Schultz Files Bill To Enter Migrant Detention Centers Without Warning

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- There is an intensifying push on Capitol Hill to ensure oversight of migrant detention facilities, particularly the one for migrant children in Homestead.

South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the Trump Administration from preventing members of Congress from entering any detention facility operated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services or private contractors working on those agencies' behalf. The bill, H.R. 3868, would also allow congressional members to visit facilities without notice.

"This Administration has proven it cannot be trusted to protect vulnerable people who have made a desperate journey to our country to escape violence and oppression," said Wasserman Schultz. "Congress must assert its constitutional authority to provide vigorous oversight of these facilities without giving administration officials days to stage-manage who and what visitors can see. If Congress can show up at these detention centers at any time, the Administration will not be able to hide the horrors some of these children endure. Members of Congress must be able to see what daily life is truly like at these facilities, which can only be achieved through unannounced visits."

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The bill is called Help Oversee, Manage and Evaluated Safe Treatment and Ensure Access without Delay, or HOMESTEAD, Act.

The Broward Democrat has been denied entry twice to the Homestead facility for unaccompanied children. On two other occasions, she was granted access, but only after officials and the for-profit contractor there had days of advance notice.

"Advance warning of our visits can lead to a skewed impression of the actual conditions inside these facilities," Wasserman Schultz said.  "Congress must be able to exercise its constitutional oversight authority and ensure that all migrants coming here are treated with dignity and humanity."

Congresswomen Frederica Wilson, Debbie Mucarsel Powell and Donna Shalala are co-sponsors.

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