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US immigration law: Are children at risk in Florida?

An immigration detention center in Florida has raised concerns among immigrant advocates. They say U.S. immigration law officials should do more to protect children's best interests. In fact, they say they have reason to believe children at this particular facility are at great risk due to substandard care.

There are reportedly as many as 250 minors being held for months at a time in a shelter that is meant to be a temporary holding location. One advocate speaking on behalf of immigrant youth described the facility in question as unsuitable for any child. Reportedly, as many as 100 children are made to sleep in the same room and that they have no in-person contact with family members or others for extended periods of time.

Lack of privacy, substandard education and other issues have prompted an outcry for reform of a system that has reportedly neglected to protect young people when they are detained in this Florida detention center. A child advocate was granted a tour of the facility. He said the conditions are inhumane and children are being packed into sleeping quarters like sardines.

The immigration complex is reportedly on federal property, adjacent to an air force reserve base. While regulations prohibit secured entrances and exits at detention facilities that house children, witnesses say this structure is surrounded by fences, with guards at every post. Children detained at this Florida shelter have supposedly only been allowed contact with their parents by phone, 10 minutes at a time, a couple times per week. Children cannot handle U.S. immigration law problems on their own; however, a parent or legal guardian can reach out for legal support on their behalf.

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