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Kamala Harris and other presidential candidates outside a child detention center in Homestead, Florida, in June 2019. Photo: Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden opposes reopening a controversial child migrant shelter in Florida that's been run by a for-profit company, telling the federal agency overwhelmed with caring for migrant minors to find other options, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The president's personal intervention underscores the growing humanitarian crisis at the border, the facility's scandal-plagued past and Biden's own sensitivities around child detention practices.

Between the lines: The temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida, is one of the largest overflow facilities — and a political lightning rod.

  • It was used during surges at the border in both the Obama and Trump administrations; there had been multiple allegations of abuse by the facility's staff and human rights violations.
  • The government has kept the shelter operationally ready to open quickly if needed in an emergency situation.
  • Despite reported discussions about opening and the overwhelming numbers of migrant kids, the Department of Health and Human Services under the Biden administration has yet to reopen it.

What they're saying: Vice President Kamala Harris, along with other Democratic presidential hopefuls, visited the Homestead shelter as a senator in June 2019 and vowed to shut down private detention facilities.

  • Advocates have pushed back against reports of HHS moving to use the shelter again. Biden seems to be listening.
  • The Biden administration "remains deeply engaged on the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border and we’re working around the clock to continue to find ways to more quickly process individuals and unite children with vetted and confirmed family members or sponsors," a White House spokesperson told Axios.
  • HHS spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: HHS has been opening other overflow shelters and recently shifted COVID-19 protocols to allow more space for kids in existing shelters. The agency is still struggling to keep up with large numbers of migrant kids and teens.

  • It opened an overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas. It plans to use a convention center in Dallas, the AP reported on Monday. It's also eyeing a military base in Virginia, as Reuters first reported.
  • As of Sunday, 4,200 minors were being held in Border Patrol facilities never intended for long-term care of children, CBS News reported and Axios has confirmed. They were awaiting placement in HHS' shelters, and 3,000 had been held for more than three days in CBP's facilities.
  • "We are looking for additional facilities and that remains a focus," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday's press briefing.

Go deeper

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.