Lights for Liberty Vigil at Homestead Temporary Shelter
Protesters camping outside Homestead Temporary Shelter. Photo by Rolando Barrero

The controversial separation of families has been a point of contention among the general public. Last Friday, a number of Floridians —the majority democrats joined by some republicans— camped outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children for the Lights for Liberty vigil calling for an end to the incarceration of children, which has been described by some like being in ‘concentration camps’ because of the conditions migrants are being held in, even amidst allegations of sex abuse and extortion.

Because of the Trump administration’s commitment to deterring immigration through cruelty, many have put partisan politics aside to rally for the children being held in the 3,200-bed migrant children’s detention center run by Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (CHSi), which is a subsidiary of the homeland security firm and private prison operator Caliburn International. As of now, the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children is believed to be the only for-profit child detention center for migrants and receiving upwards of $750 per child per day, making it one of the most lucrative ventures. CHSi was granted a contract worth at least $341 million to run the shelter.

Lights for Liberty Vigil at Homestead Temporary Shelter
Sonia Baez-Hernandez with doll by Rolando Chang Barrero (Photo by Rolando Barrrero)

The Lights for Liberty vigil participants also claimed for the camp’s shutdown and for placing children in safe and suitable facilities other than CHSi’s where so far, untrained and unsuitable staff members have been reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General due to allegations of sex abuse, extortion and hiring of felons with drug charges.

Lights for Liberty Vigil at Homestead Temporary Shelter
Protesters camping outside Homestead Temporary Shelter. Photo by Rolando Barrero

While partisan undertones remain regarding immigration policies that allow for family separations, it has become apparent that the public is making great efforts to educate themselves much more as the crisis continues in order to approach much warranted solutions to the crisis as immigration roundups across the country are now in full swing.

While ICE claims that they plan on keeping family members together at family detention facilities whenever possible, there is still much doubt.

Lights for Liberty Vigil at Homestead Temporary Shelter