Hundreds of immigrant children who originally came to the southern border are sick, with illnesses like fever, strep throat, and even tuberculosis. Now, they’re being sent alone to Illinois shelters.
Over the past few weeks, more information has surfaced about dangerous overcrowding and the prolonged detention of children and adults at border patrol facilities in Texas.
There’s been little or no access to showers, clean clothes, or toothbrushes. Bathroom facilities are also limited. The close quarters and lack of sanitation mean disease can spread quickly.
Now, ProPublica Illinois is reporting that sick children have been sent alone from these border patrol facilities to shelters in Chicago.
In some cases, these children are suffering from fevers, chicken pox, mumps and even tuberculosis. And it’s not just physical illnesses that these kids are dealing with. Officials at Heartland Human Care Services, the nonprofit that runs these shelters, say that children are exhibiting behavior consistent with trauma, anxiety and fear when they arrive.
The Refugee Center in Champaign works with family members trying to reunite with unaccompanied children held in detention facilities. Lisa Wilson is the executive director.
“We have seen kids come through with conditions like chicken pox. We saw one with a broken arm,” Wilson said. “Clearly, the conditions are not ideal at where they’re being held.”
Wilson made her comments on The 21st. She said most of the children also show signs of mental distress.
“There’s all of this trauma from the place that they’re fleeing, the trauma that might happen to them along the way, hunger, rape abuse,” she said. “And then, at the border, they might have been separated from a parent or an aunt or a loved one.”
Wilson said counselors at the Refugee Center worked on three applications last week alone, for people hoping to reunite with minor relatives who came to the Chicago shelters from the detention centers.
She said the number of immigrants seeking help at her facility has risen 12 to 17 percent in the past two years.