A state senator is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to use his “influence and authority” to get Central Florida off the shortlist of sites for the next federal migrant detention center for unaccompanied children.
Senator Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, drafted a letter to the governor after the Office of Refugee Resettlement sent out an email to state law makers last week outlining “exploratory assessments of vacant properties in Virginia, Central Florida and Los Angeles.”
In a letter sent to DeSantis’ office, Stewart asks the governor to both reunite children already separated from their families at Florida detention centers and to prevent the proposed assessment of a new center from federal officials with U.S. Health and Human Services.
“I am requesting that you use your influence and authority as Governor to stop the possibility of a fourth center from being located in Central
Florida,” the letter reads in part.
Florida already has three detention centers in Homestead, Miami Gardens and Cutler Bay. However, Homestead recently relocated all the children at its shelter to other facilities, the Miami Herald reports.
“We have done enough, and have created severe consequences on the mental health and stability of migrant children,” the letter reads. “It is not the decision of these children to come into the United States and it is inhumane to forcibly remove them from their families.”
There were few details on the assessment by federal officials for a new center, which prompted some Central Florida senate members to also send a letter to heath and human services asking for more information and clarification, according to the letter from Stewart.
Under the proposal, the Office of Refugee Resettlement would lease the property, build it up to state code, and establish a permanent site to reduce the need for temporary shelters when the others reach capacity. It would open its doors in spring 2020.
Gov. DeSantis told the News Service of Florida last week that the state is not “really involved” in the process of opening up migrant facilities.
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