Congresswoman still can’t get hurricane plan for Homestead shelter for migrant kids

Three weeks into hurricane season, a South Florida congresswoman still can’t get a look at the plan to keep unaccompanied migrant children safe if a storm hits the Homestead shelter holding between 2,000 and 3,000 children.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has expressed concern that the kids inside the shelter — some of whom live in tent-like structures — could be seriously harmed.

Upon the start of the season, the lawmaker demanded a detailed explanation of how kids would be protected, including how they would be evacuated if a major storm was bearing down on Homestead. Tuesday she got her answer — but not the one she wanted.

A one-page, six-bullet-point email told Mucarsel-Powell that the safety of the children is paramount and that the camp definitely has an evacuation plan. The actual plan however, wasn’t provided.

“Since the spring of 2018, the [Office of Refugee Resettlement] has closely coordinated with contractors on site and with federal partners to develop an evacuation plan for the Homestead Facility in the event of a Category 1 Hurricane or stronger. This plan includes elements for maintaining the accountability of all [children] in care, safe transportation and temporary housing for all children should an evacuation be necessary,” the email said. “ORR is working with on-site contractors and Federal partners to validate the plan, timelines and to ensure there is adequate space at the identified evacuation site.”

Mucarsel-Powell told the Miami Herald Wednesday that the government “is being irresponsible with the lives of thousands of children.”

Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.