Miami-Dade Schools Chief Wipes at Trump, Says Detained Immigrant Kids Need To Be Educated

Politico reports, the head of the Miami area’s massive school district — the nation’s fourth-largest — took aim at the Trump administration for its “troubling” decision to send as many as 1,000 immigrant children to a nearby detention facility without notifying education officials who say the kids need to be taught under state law.

“It is troubling that so many children are being held apart from any contact with their parents or family members and without access to those daily comforts of home,” Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade’s public school system, wrote in a letter to the administration.

“We should at least provide these children with the dignity of some connection with caring adults and access to educational services,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho noted the school district has historically provided teachers and services to unaccompanied minors, to children in Guantanamo during the Cuban refugee crisis and specifically to the facility in question, in Homestead south of Miami, when it was first opened in 2014 when thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America were being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Carvalho’s letter followed a dramatic day of recriminations on Capitol Hill, a decision by the Trump administration to block Sen. Bill Nelson and other lawmakers from the Homestead facility and then Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to distance himself fully from Trump’s policy by saying it needs to end now.

Scott, Nelson’s reelection opponent, said the state was notified in February that the Homestead facility would become activated, but the county was never notified, Carvalho said.

Carvalho is one of the more popular political figures in Miami-Dade County but is registered with no party affiliation. The county is Florida’s most populous, with more than 2.7 million residents and 350,000 students. It also has one of the highest populations of foreign-born residents in the country: about 50 percent.

Known for his outspoken advocacy for kids and the undocumented, Carvalho said he was undocumented for a time in the United States when he was an immigrant from Portugal.

Carvalho avoided criticizing anyone by name, but took the time to call out the family separation policy being implemented by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, to whom the letter was addressed. Nielsen’s agency, however, is not in charge of the children once they enter federal care. The children become wards of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The enforcement of immigration laws is not the cause of public outcry here; but rather the widespread and intentional separation of families that is unequivocally objectionable,” Carvalho wrote.

“It seems that at some point those entrusted with the leadership of a nation built upon the strength of immigrants seeking freedom, opportunity, and safety from persecution, have come to the conclusion that actions, which are contrary to the basic tenets of human decency, are necessary to protect the American way of life.”

By Marc Caputo