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HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was joined by a host of mayors from across the country in Tornillo, Texas who called for answers and more transparency in the government’s handling of illegal immigrants entering the southern border.
Suarez said he was partly relieved when President Donald Trump bowed to relentless pressure and signed an executive order that the White House said would keep families who cross into the U.S. illegally together.
“As the son of Cuban immigrants and the father of two, I have been appalled at what we’ve seen and heard and read. It’s tough for me to leave my two-month-old daughter to be here, it hurts me to be separated from her. I can’t imagine the pain that parents are feeling, the trauma the children are going through,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Suarez said when he and his fellow mayors went to tour a detention facility in the border town to see the conditions the children were living in, they were turned away. The denial of access brought up a new list of concerns, he said
“There are still a ton of unanswered questions. When are these children going to be reunited with their families? What kind of conditions are they living in? Why are we, a non-partisan bipartisan group, being denied access to these facilities? What is there to hide,” said Suarez.
“We are here to get answers and we are hopeful that those answers will reflect the morality and the ethics this country was founded on,” he added.
Suarez said he also tried to access the unaccompanied migrant children shelter in Homestead, but was turned away. Just like Senator Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were turned away on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a video recording of inside the Homestead shelter.
Approximately 1,000 children are being held there, nearly 100 of them were separated from their families while trying to cross the U.S. southern board.
On the video children, whose faces are not shown to protect their privacy, are show painting and doing what appears to be classwork, even working on math problems on a board. Children are also seen playing basketball and apparently getting a medical checkup.
The video also shows a dining hall with colorful characters and signs showing the menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Children are seen having what appear to be nutritious meals and you see bunk beds and even a barbershop.
The images from the Homestead facility are in stark contrast to a government-provided video of a facility in Texas where children and adults are kept in a cage-like setting.
Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson say they are going to tour the Homestead facility on Saturday.
At least 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since the zero-tolerance immigration policy went into effect earlier this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are more than 1,000 migrant children currently being held at the Homestead shelter – including 94 who were separated from their families at the border. HHS says there are at least 174 children who were separated from their families being held at facilities in Florida – including the 94 at Homestead.