In Florida, the Homestead migrant child detention camp that has housed about 14,300 undocumented children in total since March 2018 is emptying out.
Health and Human Services (HHS) told AP News that all children who had been at the facility are now with family members or at smaller state-licensed centers.
The camp was the largest migrant child detention camp in the country.
“HHS closely monitors referral numbers adjusting bed capacity to respond to changing levels of need,” the department told AP News.
The HHS changed their processes last month, which has led to the camp shutting down. HHS expedited the process for sending child migrants to live with relatives already in the U.S. by eliminating a fingerprinting requirement for adult siblings and grandparents. It also stopped universally requiring child abuse and neglect checks unless there are special concerns, in order to more quickly get children out of migrant detention camps.
The number of beds at the Homestead center would be reduced from 2,700 beds to 1,200 beds, HHS told AP News. No new children have been placed there since July 3 — but that may change in a few months, according to HHS.
“We anticipate an uptick in the number of referrals made to HHS this fall, based on historical trends,” a department spokesperson told AP News.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement that HHS should be more forthcoming about why so many children were moved so quickly and exactly where they went.
“I will seek a full accounting of where these hundreds of children who were reportedly relocated from the Homestead detention center ended up,” the Florida Democrat said. “HHS must be more transparent, and I will continue to demand answers about the fates of these children.”
The emptying of the Homestead migrant child camp has led to major loss of jobs. The Miami Herald reported that more than 4,000 people who worked at the facility are losing their jobs.