Actress Alyssa Milano and a group of activists headed to a migrant detention center unannounced and demanded to be let in, saying that they wanted to meet with children housed in the facility. She told the guards, “I’m Alyssa Milano, an actress/activist,” expecting that to make a difference. But the guards stood firm, turning the whole group away.
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Milano went to the Homestead migrant detention center on Wednesday morning, arriving in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. According to a report by the Daily Mail, she tried to leverage her status as a celebrity with the guards to get the group inside.
The guards, however, weren’t inclined to make an exception. Instead, they told Milano and the rest of the group that they couldn’t show up unannounced and expect to gain entry; they had to submit formal requests like everyone else.
Milano streamed videos on Twitter during the incident. In one, she addresses one of the government employees who were preventing her from accessing the facility, stating, “I’m Alyssa Milano. I’m an actress/activist, and I would love to be let in based on a community visit.”
The government agents inform Milano and the group, which included a Vermont state representative, that all requests for entry had to be submitted in writing in advance and turns them all away.
Instead of leaving, the group raises heart-shaped cardboard signs, hoping that the children inside could see them over the facility’s fence.
Milano does head back to her car and films another video, asking that her followers – which number over 3.6 million – to submit requests asking that she be allowed inside on Thursday.
“We tried to get in; they wouldn’t let us. They gave me a card to email to make a visit request,” said Milano.
“Maybe we should all email and tell them to let me in. I’m going to go back there tomorrow and again try to be let in.”
“They want me to make an appointment to be let back in. Usually, that appointment is set up for two weeks later,” Milano continued.
“Of course, in that two weeks, they have the time to clean up the place. I thought it was important that they just let me in.”
Milano then went on to describe the alleged conditions inside the center, claiming that pencils and pens were being taken from the children because they were using the writing implements to harm themselves.
“There are thousands of children at Homestead. They had pencils and pens taken away from them because they were cutting themselves,” said Milano as she fought back tears.
“They are not allowed to have any physical contact with each other to comfort each other even if they’re siblings,” she continued. “The 17-year-old, once they turn 18, they’re put into solitary confinement and then shackled and brought to an adult detention center.”
Milano also asked viewers of the video to head to other facilities located in their communities and demand entry.
“If you have any of these detention centers in your community, please show up. Ask to be let inside – make sure they know that people are watching and that we’re going to continue to watch and as always,” she said.
“Thank you for your support. And your love. I feel honored to be able to use my platform in this capacity.”
“That’s all,” she added. “Let’s all use our voices to try to get these centers shut down.”