Chicago to temporarily house undocumented immigrant children? - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago to temporarily house undocumented immigrant children?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Tens of thousands of children are illegally crossing into the United States, without their parents, in hopes of escaping violence from their home countries and finding a better life.

According to a statement from congressman Randy Hultgren's office, some of those children could be housed in the Chicago area temporarily.

The children are primarily from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They've traveled hundreds of miles alone, and some are reported to be as young as 7-years-old.

Reverend Walker Coleman of the Lincoln Methodist Church off of South Damen Street and 22nd has been assisting immigration groups on the border and believes many of the children crossing into the U.S. today were deported in the past.

“This is an effect of the deportations. You deport 3 million people, 80 percent have no criminal records and families, you’ve basically dispersed people through four countries…mothers take their kids with them and they find it very difficult to survive in those situations, and they come back,” said Coleman.

Officials estimate around 90,000 children could be caught crossing the border illegally this year alone.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that because of the large increase in numbers, they will be opening temporary shelters as quickly as possible to house the children until they can be reunited with their families in their home countries.

However, some of these children are in search of their relatives already in the U.S.

“Almost everyone we’ve seen has an aunt, grandfather or uncle and they’re very hopeful that they'll find their way to them whether that’s in Miami, Chicago or anywhere else,” added Coleman.

While the HHS will not specify specific locations for proposed shelters in Illinois, a former monastery in Olympia Fields was being considered as a lodging facility. But that's been taken off the table.

Reverend Coleman said he believes that the lack of opportunity in their native countries and the millions of people deported in the past decade is causing more families to send their children to the U.S., ultimately risking their lives.

“They’re terrible, very dangerous, hard conditions…for them to make it shows a lot of desperation, it shows that they can’t make it in the countries where they are,” Coleman said.

On average, the U.S. Department of Human Services houses between 7,000 to 8,000 children a year. Their average length of stay is 35 days and the department said that 85 percent of those children are reunited with their families.

Reverend Coleman said that any children who need help can go to a faith community to find representation.

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