By KEVIN DERBY
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Members of Congress can’t walk into illegal-immigrant detention centers unannounced, so Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz is fighting back with a bill that would reverse that.
On Tuesday — a day after she filed it — the South Florida congresswoman showcased her “Help Oversee, Manage and Evaluate Safe Treatment and Ensure Access without Delay (HOMESTEAD) Act.”
She took aim at the Trump administration in the legislation, which “would prohibit the administration from preventing members of Congress from entering any migrant detention facility operated by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, or contractors working on behalf of those agencies” and would “also prohibit the administration from requiring that Members of Congress provide advance notice before entering such a facility.”
Wasserman Schultz came out swinging Tuesday.
“This 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,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Congress must assert its constitutional authority to provide vigorous oversight of these facilities without giving administration officials days to stage-manage who and what visitors can see. If Congress can show up at these detention centers at any time, the administration will not be able to hide the horrors some of these children endure. Members of Congress must be able to see what daily life is truly like at these facilities, which can only be achieved through unannounced visits.”
Dems Rally at Homestead July 15 South Florida Democrats noted that she has twice been denied entry into the Homestead facility, a holding facility for primarily unaccompanied minors. She also pointed out that she had been allowed in twice after officials and contractors had been notified in advance, often wanting on two weeks notification.
“Advance warning of our visits can lead to a skewed impression of the actual conditions inside these facilities,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Congress must be able to exercise its constitutional oversight authority and ensure that all migrants coming here are treated with dignity and humanity.”
Wasserman Schultz has reeled in several cosponsors from her side of the aisle, including Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, Debbie Mucarsel Powell, Donna Shalala and Frederica Wilson.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committees on Monday. So far, in spite of the noise Wasserman Schultz’s “HOMESTEAD Act” has created, there is no companion measure in the U.S. Senate.