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Warren and Klobuchar visit migrant detention center ahead of Democratic debate

Democrats visit Florida migrant detention center

Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar visited a troubled detention center for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead, Florida, on Wednesday, hours before taking the stage in Miami for the first Democratic debate. Both senators missed the Senate's vote on a $4.6 billion border security bill Wednesday.

The controversial for-profit detention center holds around 2,300 children from the ages of 13 to 17, who have been placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services after being detained at the border. Immigration attorneys filed a brief in federal court in May with harrowing testimonials from children held inside the facility. Democrats have expressed increasing concern about the treatment of migrants in detention centers, blaming President Trump's restrictive immigration policies for the poor conditions.

Neither Klobuchar nor Warren were allowed inside the Homestead facility, which is about 30 miles from Miami, but Warren stood on a stepladder and looked over the gate. She said she saw children walking in single-file lines, and called separation of migrant families at the border "a moral stain on the U.S. inflicted by Donald Trump."

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren stands on a ladder with an unidentified girl, and tries to wave to migrant children in front of a detention center in Homestead, Florida on June 26, 2019. Rhona Wise / AFP/Getty Images

"Following a policy that can be boiled down to one basic idea — and that is maximizing the pain inflicted on families who flee to the United States to try to build some security and safety in their lives — is fundamentally and morally wrong," Warren said, addressing the press and supporters outside of the facility.

Warren and Klobuchar weren't the only presidential candidates visiting Homestead this week. Other visitors will include Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Beto O'Rourke, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson. Jane Sanders, Sen. Bernie Sanders' wife, also visited the facility on Wednesday. Rep. Eric Swalwell visited the facility on Monday.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar addresses the media in front of a detention center for migrant children in Homestead, Florida on June 26, 2019. Rhona Wise / AFP/Getty Images

Warren and Klobuchar are in Florida for the first Democratic primary debate, where they will join eight other candidates onstage Wednesday night. A second round of debates with 1- other candidates will take place on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed its version of a supplemental border funding bill Wednesday after rejecting the House bill passed Tuesday night. The Senate's bipartisan bill passed with 84 yeas to 8 nays, and includes bipartisan negotiated border security funding language. Now it will be returned to the House for consideration, but Congress is leaving at the end of the week for its Independence Day recess, so there is very little time to reconcile the House and Senate versions.