To the editor:
It's hurricane season in Florida, and storm clouds of heartlessness hang over Homestead, where 3,000 youths ages 13 to 17 have been detained as unaccompanied minors or separated from relatives.
Information is conflicting and confusing regarding border crossings at undesignated checkpoints — namely are the migrants legal?
On stepladders to see and be seen over Homestead's high barrier we hold huge red hearts, symbols of compassion and solidarity.
What we know: At 18, these migrants are shackled and sent to adult prisons. Though a legal length of stay is 20 days, children are often held for 60 or more. Disobedience is punished by longer detention. There is no evacuation plan, and the dining and recreation tents are not weather-proof. There’s no oversight by state or local authorities, since the facility stands on federal land run by Caliburn International, a for-profit corporation and clear example of corporate greed.
Secrecy, silence and tight security are maintained; no visitors may enter, and sponsors are afraid to come forward for fear of reprisal.
Still, children in orange caps wave and shout hello, eager to respond with their own improvised heart signs as they file outside for basketball and soccer. Occasionally music is blasted and welcomed in this heavily guarded, militarized atmosphere.
The indefinite detention of children is a moral question. What if your own child were held captive?
Migrant children like ours are seeking a better future and a chance for acceptance. The most humane answer is to provide homes instead of Homestead. Let's shut it down.