Activists hope Homestead migrant detention center remains empty

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - The Homestead detention center that housed thousands of undocumented children was cleared out on Saturday, and demonstrators now hope it remains empty for good.

Human rights activists exhaled a sigh of relief after the migrant children were cleared out of the Homestead facility, Saturday.

“Two months ago, there were 3,000 children sleeping in this facility, and today, there are none,” said Joyce Ajlouny with the American Friends Service Committee.

Several reports said the children were picked up in vans early Saturday morning and reunited with families or sponsors. However, hundreds were reportedly taken to another facility.

“Family separation shouldn’t be a requirement for us to find safety, and that is what’s happening right now,” said Paula Munoz with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “It’s becoming that requirement, and we’re not going to stop until that stops, until family separation ends.”

While pro-migrant movements are taking credit, the decision to downsize was actually made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the last few weeks.

The center’s child population had been rapidly reducing to keep in line with safety regulations.

A tropical wave moving through the Atlantic last week also activated the center’s hurricane plan to transfer all children at least five days before South Florida was in the path of a potential tropical danger.

“This center isn’t closed,” said Jonathan Fried, executive director of WeCount! “It has no children, but they are keeping it open just in case.”

There currently aren’t any plans to bring children back to the center, but 1,200 empty beds will remain in place to be used as a last resort for unaccompanied minors.

Meanwhile, about 400 employees were laid off at the facility, Friday. About 4,000 additional employees are expected to lose their jobs at the center.

The Department of Health and Human Services plans on keeping about 130 employees on site to maintain the property.

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.