Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) has introduced the HOMESTEAD Act of 2019, which directly references the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children.
The legislation would prohibit members of congress from being denied entry to migrant facilities that are operated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services or any private contractors that are working on the behalf of those agencies.
Congressional members would be allowed to visit the facilities without prior notification.
On the matter, the Florida Rep. asserted that members of congress “should have the right to conduct oversight anytime we feel the need to.”
Directly citing the actions of the Trump administration as a need for the legislation, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz expressed that the Trump 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.”
She added that it’s vital for congress to “assert its constitutional authority to provide vigorous oversight of these facilities without giving administration officials days to stage-manage centers at any time,” arguing that “the administration will not be able to hide the horrors some of these children endure.”
As well, the Rep. cited her own experiences with being denied twice as a motivator for introducing the legislation, explaining that “that obliterations any real oversight.”
So, “if [detention facilities] don’t give us any opportunities to see what is happening in real time, we can’t get a true picture of what is going on in there.”
The current protocol is to notify of a visit 48 hours in advance, but the Homestead facility has asked for a two-week notice as well.
To this, Rep. Wasserman Schultz expresses that “advance warning of our visits can lead to a skewed impression of the actual conditions inside the facility.” Because of that, “congress must be able to exercise its constitutional oversight authority and ensure that all migrants coming here are treated with dignity and humanity.”