WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday accused the Trump administration of trying to hide what's going on in the Homestead, Fla., immigration center he was denied entry into yesterday.
"Why did they not want the senator from Florida to get into this detention facility?" the Florida Democrat asked on the Senate floor. "They don't want us to know what is going on in there."
Nelson was told yesterday that he'd need to give two weeks' notice to get entry into the facility.
He said that in addition to 94 children housed at the facility as a result of the child separation policy, there are an additional 174 children being held in other Florida locations "that have been separated from their families."
"Despite all the finger pointing and the deflection, President Trump and his administration knows that this is their policy," Nelson said. "There's nothing in the law that requires them to tear parents away from their children. There's nothing in the law that requires the administration to rip an infant from a parent's arms. The decision to enact this quite horrendous and shameful policy was a decision by this administration and this administration alone."
Gov. Rick Scott's Senate campaign quickly issued a statement accusing Nelson of doing nothing to address the immigration problem, and noted that Congress was notified of the opening of the Homestead facility in February.
Scott was notified as well and yesterday sent a letter to Health and Human Services asking questions about the facility and care of children inside. The opening of the facility predated Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that has taken more than 2,300 children from parents.
Also, Scott's campaign statement represented the first direct mention of Trump, albeit his administration.
"Governor Scott has been clear – he does not agree with the Trump administration's practice of separating children from their families, and it is extremely frustrating that innocent children are paying the price for the failures of Washington," Scott's campaign said.
"Bill Nelson has been a fixture in the federal government for decades, but he has done nothing to make our border more secure. Congress was notified of this facility opening in February, but Nelson continued to tell members of the media that he found out about it this week. The chaos at the border is a direct result of career politicians like Nelson who for years have failed to take action on this federal responsibility because they are just talkers, not doers."