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Migrant children detained in Homestead center relocated

migrant detention center
Posted at 1:52 PM, Aug 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 13:53:52-04

All undocumented migrant children housed in a federal detention center in Homestead have been relocated partly due to the threat of a tropical wave.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the facility, said the children have "either been reunified with an appropriate sponsor or transferred to a state-licensed facility."

HHS said it expects an increase in the number of migrant children, it will mantain the bed capacity at the location to 1,200 beds – down from 2,700 beds. In total, about 14,300 migrant children had been sheltered at the location since March 2018.

Miami's WTVJ confirmed the story first reported by the Miami Herald.

Citing two federal sources, the Miami Herald reports the decision to permanently relocate the children and effectively shut down operations at the center was partly made due to a tropical wave that previously had a chance to develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm earlier in the week.

The tropical waves monitored earlier this week by the National Hurricane Center dissipated. Another tropical disturbance, currently located in the open Atlantic Ocean, has a 30% chance of formation within the next five days, according to the NHC.

The Homestead center's hurricane plan was to transfer all children out of the facility at least five days before South Florida was in a storm system's forecasted cone of error, the Miami Herald reports.

About 400 employees were laid off at the center on Friday. Thousands more are expected to be laid off Monday, the Miami Herald reports. The federal agency that oversees the Homestead property, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, plans on keeping about 130 personnel at the site to maintain the location.

The relocation also comes after a South Florida member of Congress led a group of fellow representatives on a tour of the Homestead facility that has drawn national attention in the growing immigration debate.

In mid-July, the center released hundreds of teens to relatives to ease overcrowding.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said she will "demand answers about the fates of these children." She called the Trump administration relocating more than 3,000 children in under a month "disturbing."

“While this is being portrayed as a safety measure, given this administration’s abysmal and cruel track record, I fear it’s an attempt to skirt scrutiny and accountability," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "Last year, during a very active hurricane season, there were no major movements of children and suddenly, they are all moved supposedly because of a tropical depression? For months, HHS complained of backlogs, yet it has now relocated all children at Homestead without full explanation."

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This story is courtesy of our news partners at NBCMiami.com.