CBP detains 3 children, all US citizens, at Chicago airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents reportedly detained three children, all U.S. citizens, for about 13 hours Thursday morning at Chicago O'Hare International Airport after traveling with a cousin from Mexico.

The girls, 9, 10 and 13, were detained around 3 a.m. Thursday morning, according to WGN9. The outlet reported that the cousin is not a U.S. citizen, but all those traveling had the necessary paperwork to be allowed into the country.

A CBP spokesperson told The Hill in a statement Thursday that the adult traveling with the girls was a Mexican citizen who was deemed "inadmissible." Officials added in a statement that agents had tried to reach the girls' parents to come pick them up.

ADVERTISEMENT

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers attempted numerous times today to reach family members to pick up the children," the spokesperson said, noting that the girls' mother picked them up at 4 p.m. "without incident."

According to the Chicago Tribune, the children were given food and drinks in the meantime before they were released to their mother. They were reportedly released after an official from the Mexican Consulate helped reach an agreement that the girls' mother could pick up the girls without fear of being taken into custody.

“I feel that it’s a kind of kidnapping of children by our government, and I’m really fed up with what we are doing,” Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Congress must get pharma out of NAFTA 2.0 Reddit, Google to testify before House panel on tech's legal protections MORE (D-Ill.) said. Schakowsky had been at O'Hare on Thursday afternoon and attempted to resolve the situation with CBP, according to the Tribune.

The girls' mother, who is not a U.S. citizen, said her daughters had traveled to Mexico, their first trip there, with a relative. She told the Tribune that she feared her own detention if she went to retrieve her children, saying that she has applied for legal status, but fears that officials want to arrest immigrants who lack proper documentation.

“I was really scared but I reacted and thought, we have rights and I called the Mexican Consulate,” she told the outlet in Spanish. “I thank God I made that decision.”

The family's attorney, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, of PASO West Suburban Action Project, said it should not have taken such effort for the children to be released from their detention. Ruiz-Velasco said he got a notarized letter signed by their mother allowing him to take the girls home but said officials still did not release the children.

Activists descended on O'Hare to protest the girls' detention, claiming the move was intended to bait and arrest the girls' parents, who are undocumented.