Breaking News Bar
posted: 7/26/2014 1:01 AM

Sen. Kirk's office challenges Illinois migrant figures

hello
Success - Article sent! close
 
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Recent data released by the federal government may reflect only a fraction of how many unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border are in Illinois, with state officials saying hundreds more could be at shelters.

In a state-by-state list made public Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families said 305 children were released to Illinois sponsors from Jan. 1 through July 7 of this year. However, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's office said Friday federal data given to his office this month shows that another 429 children were at Illinois shelters as of July 8.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Kirk's office said Friday the number of children at the shelters fluctuates. A message left for a federal health and human services spokesman wasn't immediately returned.

Illinois is prepared to "help in whatever way necessary," Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday. His comment comes as governors in some other states, including Idaho, have asked federal officials not to send any of the children.

"We have a responsibility to ensure all children are treated with respect, compassion and dignity," the Chicago Democrat said in a statement. "My administration will continue to discuss this important subject with other federal, state and local elected officials."

The details of how and where the children are kept in Illinois as they await immigration proceedings are sparse.

The U.S. faces a sharp rise in unaccompanied minors who have been fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the U.S. because they believe they will be allowed to stay.

The children are first held at government shelters where they undergo medical exams and are then placed with sponsors as they go through deportation proceedings. Often, sponsors -- who must undergo background checks -- are family members or family friends and are responsible for making sure a child shows up for court.

Overall, 30,340 unaccompanied children have been released to sponsors this year.

For years, the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance has contracted with the federal government to run shelters and legal services for the children. The group has hundreds of beds available in the Chicago area, but doesn't make shelter locations public for safety and privacy reasons. A spokeswoman for the group didn't immediately comment Friday.

Compared to other populous states, Illinois has a smaller number of unaccompanied minors.

The states with the most immigrant children have established central American communities -- Texas had the most released to sponsors with 4,280, followed by New York, Florida and California, according to the federal data.

The largest contingent of Illinois' immigrant population comes from Mexico, followed by Poland and India, according to Illinois' Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy. However, Cook County does have one of the largest populations of Guatemalan immigrants, after Los Angeles and Harris Counties in California, according to an analysis of census data.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here