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Illinois’ Detention Shelters Must Protect Migrant Children


What Do You Know About the Migrant Shelters Around Chicago?

Thousands of children remain detained by Customs and Border Protection and ICE, and horrific stories of abuse and neglect continue to erupt from the centers these young migrants have been forced to call home. For more than 20 years, Chicago has been the temporary home to many children who have been detained after entering the U.S. Some of them have either crossed the border alone or, most recently, were taken and separated from their parents under the Trump Administration immigration policies. Some of the displaced children are taken to the shelter facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The majority of the centers are run by a large nonprofit under the name Heartland Human Care Services, which oversees the program in and around Chicago. It is an umbrella service of The Heartland Alliance.

  • In April, more than 40 children tested positive for COVID-19 after an outbreak occurred at a Heartland facility on Chicago’s South Side. It was considered one of the most significant outbreaks of the virus in any shelter for immigrant youth in the country.
  • A Rogers Park shelter was cited for “improper and inadequate supervision” last year, as well as fire code violations.
  • Another facility, Casa Guadalupe, has been involved in a series of ongoing federal investigations of abuse and neglect of migrant children.

Several other detention centers in Illinois anonymously house migrant children detained after crossing the border. The secret locations have raised questions about who, if anyone, is providing sufficient oversight of staff and protection for the children.

While these shelters’ work is necessary, meaningful, and designed to support unaccompanied children, employees from multiple detention facilities have gone on record to report neglect or abuse due to insufficient shelter care staff and resources.

Allegations Can Be Proven Valid with Legal Help

ProPublica research, which includes tragic stories from shelter residents and previous staff, and alarming government reports going back to 2018 through today, shows the gathering of similar issues from across the country. Many include gruesome allegations of sexual assaults in migrant children’s shelters by mostly staff or, sometimes, other residents. The issue is that most cases are slow to open but quick to shut, leaving little room for justice and abusers free to continue their wrongdoings on innocent children.

No child in others’ care should endure abusive treatment or neglect, and no person should allow it to continue. Migrant shelter workers may feel helpless because they are stretched too thin to devote the attention vulnerable children under their care need, but they should not feel helpless. Reporting any type of wrongdoing is the right thing to do.

Respected Personal Injury, Abuse, and Neglect Attorneys in Chicago

Levin & Perconti has become one of the most widely-known and respected personal injury, abuse, and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million-dollar verdicts and settlements. If you know of a migrant child who has sustained a physical or emotional injury in a facility or shelter, you can help them. These can be complicated cases for care workers to sort through alone, so please contact us now for a free consultation or schedule a call with one of our skilled attorneys by dialing (877) 374-1417 or (312) 332-2872.