CHICAGO (CBS) — Quick action from Chicago’s city council Wednesday regarding centers where children separated at the border are sent.
Aldermen said they’re not getting enough information from the non-profit Heartland Alliance.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, the city is taking steps to make sure they get it.
They are smiling now, but two Brazilian boys, separated from their families at the border, told stories of being isolated and yelled at. One even placed in a cast without a doctor’s care while sheltered at one of five Heartland Alliance centers in Chicago.
“I have a facility in my ward. I didn’t even know that it was a facility that was taking in these children,” said 3rd ward alderman Pat Dowell.
Aldermen have since been frustrated by Heartland’s inability to quickly provide basic information.
Saying they’re constrained by federal guidelines, Heartland was slow to reveal the locations where it housed children separated from their families and sent to Heartland as a result of President Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy.
“We are talking about X number of children and we still don’t know what that number is, whether it’s 66 or 73,” said 25th ward alderman Daniel Solis.
Acting swiftly Wednesday, Chicago city council approved a measure that would, for starters, require Heartland and other childcare institutions to provide personnel contact information, addresses, the average number of children housed and their ages.
“We are going to do inspections. And I think that’s a good thing to do. To find out if the facilities that are taking care of these kids are adequate enough to be safe,” said Solis. “There won’t be this mystery of ‘we can’t give you information because the federal government is prohibiting us from doing that,'” said Solis.
In a written response, the organization said “Heartland Alliance has no objection to additional oversight.”
CBS 2 learned that on Wednesday Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich toured one of Heartland’s facilities and prayed with the children.
He said we should be grateful for the many dedicated people who care for them in these circumstances.
The visit came about a month after his first request.