Central Florida has been taken off a short list to house a federal detention center for unaccompanied migrant children, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., announced in a tweet Friday.
“I’m glad our community won’t be part of the President’s inhumane child detention policy, and I will keep fighting to ensure that all children are treated with kindness and care,” said Demings, who represents the Orlando area.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in July that Central Florida was among three areas under consideration for a permanent shelter for unaccompanied minors. Demings said President Donald Trump’s administration continues to look for a location in Texas and Arizona.
Federal officials say a center is needed to house migrant children who arrived alone at the border or were separated from their guardians when they reached the U.S. without documentation.
Florida’s lone federal detention shelter for migrant children, in Homestead, was emptied in early August, according to federal officials. The facility housed more than 14,000 migrant children since March 2018, officials said.
Jonathan Hayes, director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, told members of Congress last week that the controversial Homestead facility remains staffed to support up to 1,200 children, even though no kids are staying there.
The cost to keep the facility fully operational without children is about $600,000 a day, Hayes said.
He said the site could be used again in the future in case of a sudden influx of unaccompanied migrant children, which is why the agency is keeping it staffed.\