Illinois shelters say rising number of children arriving from border patrol facilities sick, traumatized: report

 Illinois shelters say rising number of children arriving from border patrol facilities sick, traumatized: report

Officials at immigrant youth facilities in Illinois have reported seeing an increased number of children arriving at their centers sick and traumatized after spending a week or more in U.S. Border Patrol facilities.

Officials with Heartland Human Care Services, one of two organizations that contracts with the federal government to shelter immigrant children in the state, told ProPublica Illinois that children at their shelters show “behaviors consistent with trauma like heightened anxiety, and fearfulness."

Heartland, which houses nearly 400 children, told the outlet that some children at five of its Illinois shelters have shown up contagious with tuberculosis, chicken pox, strep throat or fever, and are now being quarantined and treated for their illnesses.


Heartland officials told the nonprofit news organization that they are seeing an unprecedented increase of contagious diseases. A Heartland spokesperson told The Hill in a statement Friday that the largest increases have been in flu, fevers and strep throat. 

"Historically, we have seen intermittent cases of TB and chicken pox; however, lately, we are seeing them come in clusters," the spokesperson also said, referring to tuberculosis. 

"All children we serve receive immediate care for any acute or emergency health needs and are provided routine medical care throughout their time with us," the spokesperson added. " We vehemently oppose the criminalization of children and families as a result of government immigration policies, and the inhumane treatment of children and families at the border. "

According to ProPublica, children also have described “horrible and inhumane conditions” at border facilities to staff.

About 60 children are being held in shelters operated by Maryville Academy. 

Maryville's executive director, Catherine Ryan, told ProPublica that "we’ve consistently seen that children come having experienced trauma on the journey.”


A previous ProPublica report revealed that children and teens inside border facilities had expressed suicidal thoughts and alleged abuse, threats and inappropriate sexual relationships inside the shelters. 

ProPublica's report also follows in the wake of a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, which found "dangerous overcrowding" and "prolonged detention of children and adults" in facilities near the border.  

The revelations of the conditions migrants are facing in detention centers have increased pressure on the Trump administration over the handling of the surge of migrants entering through the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Hill has reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for comment.

--Updated at 11:58 a.m.