Immigration Crisis: With some kids in Chicago, what's next?
By Mike Flannery, FOX 32 News Political Editor - bio | email
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
The scenes on America's southwest border are disturbing: tens of thousands of youngsters from Central America seeking asylum in the U.S.
Now, officials say hundreds of them have been brought to nine shelters in the Chicago area. Senator Dick Durbin visited 70 of the children. He then delivered an emotional appeal for President Obama's plan to build a network of new shelters.
The President asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis at the border. That is drawing criticism from both the right and left.
Reporters and cameras were not allowed to accompany Sen. Durbin on his visit to 70 young immigrants Monday evening. Officials decline even to name the neighborhoods that hold the nine shelters in the area, now housing a total of 427 border crossers.
Sen. Mark Kirk suggested these young people could be recruited by criminal gangs.
“I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that these are gangs coming into the United States. These are children escaping gangs coming into the United States,” Durbin said.
The vast majority of the 50,000 children who've turned themselves in after arriving in the U.S. are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, parts of which are controlled by extremely violent drug gangs. They're also plagued by corrupt and violent government officials.
As heart-rending as the children's plight may be, some Democrats and Republicans take issue with President Obama's call for Congress to approve an emergency $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis at the border.
Noting the murderous violence that plagues parts of Chicago, Rev. Jesse Jackson last week demanded the President also seek an emergency $2 billion for the children of his own home town.
FOX 32's Mike Flannery asked Sen. Durbin, "Don't we owe them an obligation, before the kids who show up at the border, poignant as their dilemma may be?
Durbin responded, "Mike, it's a false choice. We need both. In this situation, these kids stay for 2-4 weeks in Chicago."
After that, many are released to the custody of relatives or foster families. Lawyers are appointed for those seeking asylum. Their cases sometimes drag on for four or five years.
With immigration lawyers making no secret of their hope to keep these cases in court for up to five years, it appears many of the youngsters showing up at the border these days may stay in the U.S. for a long time.