By Jay Levine

(CBS) — A new skirmish has broken out in the partisan battle over immigration reform. It’s about those so-called border kids.

These are the boys and girls, many of them without their parents, intercepted at the border and held in huge camps for long periods of time. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says hundreds are being held here in the Chicago area.

The Republican is raising questions about safety, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

A Kirk statement earlier this week talked about protecting the safety of the American people. On Friday, that changed to the safety of the children themselves.

At the Honduran consulate on the Northwest Side, CBS 2 found it has been common knowledge in the Central American community that some of those kids  are here.

“We have been told that there are several here in Chicago … but we don’t know exactly where they are,” Pablo Ordonez says.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it has “had to quickly open temporary shelters on 3 military bases. These shelters are currently in many states including Illinois.”

Thursday night, Kirk issued a statement that for the first time said some of the border kids were here in Chicago. Friday, Congressmen Luis Gutierrez accused Kirk of spreading fear.

“Children, senator — children, little girls. Shame on you, you hypocrite,” Gutierrez said.

Friday, Sen. Kirk was all about the kids: their safety and their welfare, in the face of reports that teen-aged gang members were found amidst unaccompanied minors in Texas.

Gutierrez says Kirk should “apologize” and “man-up.”

Kirk responded: “I am not saying that they are all arrested criminals.”

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