Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) on Thursday was asked about Senate colleague Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) criticism of a for-profit immigration detention center for kids in his home state, a facility where she said kids are treated like criminals.
Scott responded by arguing that Harris’ opinion did not matter because the facility had been around for five years and Harris had done nothing about it when it first opened.
Harris, of course, was not a member of the Senate at that time.
At Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, the California lawmaker recounted her recent experience trying to visit the largely unregulated Homestead detention center near Miami, Florida. “There is a private detention facility being paid for by your taxpayer dollars, a private detention facility that currently houses 2,700 children,” she said. “I saw children lined up, single-file based on gender, being walked into barracks. These children should not be treated like criminals.”
On Thursday, Fox News asked Scott, who was Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019, about Harris’ comments. He offered no defense of the facility — which the Trump administration has tried to expand — saying simply, “I’ve been down to Homestead.”
He then launched into a bizarre attack on Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“If you look at this, it was opened in 2014,” Scott noted. “Where was Kamala Harris in 2014? Where was Elizabeth Warren in 2014? You look at this whole group of people up there, they what, have 2,200 years experience elected and things like that. What have they done? Did they secure our border? No. None of them. They’ve never secured our border. Did they fix our asylum laws?”
It was unclear why Scott believed that senators should be disqualified from speaking out about the current conditions at a facility just because it has been open for a few years.
Additionally, Harris was the attorney general of California in 2014, and had no jurisdiction or involvement in Florida-based federal child immigration detention centers. She did not become a U.S. senator until January 2017, and has been in the minority for her entire two-and-a-half-year tenure.
And where was Warren in 2014? While she was in her first term in the Senate, she had just voted for a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed 68 to 32. Despite promises that the House would act on it, the Republican leadership in that chamber never did so.
Scott has himself served in elected office in Florida and now in Congress for eight and a half years. He has yet to solve the country’s asylum laws or secure the border as Republicans have suggested the government should.