Minors Languish Inside Illinois’ Largest Immigrant Detainee Home
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that agents detained a total of 5,283 children who weren’t accompanied by a parent in November of 2018. Ad in December of 2018, two immigrant children died on separate occasions in just over two weeks which created strong scrutiny of U.S. authorities held responsible for their care. For more than 20 years, Chicago has been the temporary home to many migrant children who have been detained after entering the U.S. Some of these young immigrants either crossed the border alone or as we have come to know most recently, taken from their immigrant parents and placed into the custody of the CBP and then overseen by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The largest caretaker or shelter agency for these children in Illinois is a 130-year-old nonprofit organization branded with the name Heartland. Employees from multiple Heartland agencies have been reported saying immigrant children are in fact neglected or abused due to insufficient shelter care staff and oversight of the agency, similar to the everyday problems today’s elderly face while living in understaffed nursing homes.
Understaffing Always at Root of Neglect and Abuse
A ProPublica Illinois public records request which prompted the publication of a December 21, 2018 report says Heartland has “received more federal money than all but three organizations that contract with the federal government to house immigrant children detained by the government.” With that money, Heartland is responsible for managing nine shelters in and around the City of Chicago, including the old Bronzeville nursing home and within a series of cottages on the campus of Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, called Casa Guadalupe. Most recently, Casa Guadalupe has been involved in a series of ongoing federal investigations of abuse and neglect of migrant children after it was noted an employee injected a child with a sedative.
Other Heartland incidents have emerged including a federal lawsuit alleging the agency was negligent in caring for an 11-year-old boy from Guatemala who fell into a metal bed frame and sustained a serious head injury. And although there are no official police records on an incident in Englewood, a Heartland shelter was cited for losing a 4-year-old child who wandered the neighborhood in search of her mother.
The December 2018 ProPublica report also shows the gathering of police reports from across the country which include gruesome allegations of sexual assaults in immigrant children’s shelters by mostly staff or sometimes, other immigrant 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 the care of others should endure this type of treatment, 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. Staff should not feel helpless and know that 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 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.