As Months Pass in Chicago Shelters, Immigrant Children Contemplate Escape, Even Suicide
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As Months Pass in Chicago Shelters, Immigrant Children Contemplate Escape, Even Suicide

Pro Publica |
September 6, 2018

ZERO TOLERANCE As Months Pass in Chicago Shelters, Immigrant Children Contemplate Escape, Even Suicide Internal documents reveal despair and tedium in one of the nation’s largest shelter networks for unaccompanied minors.


One 16-year-old from Guatemala said he wanted to “quitarme la vida,” or “take my life away,” as he waited to be released from a Chicago shelter for immigrant children. He was kept there for at least 584 days.

A 17-year-old from Guinea went on a hunger strike, telling staff members he refused to eat until he saw evidence they were trying to find him a home. He was released nearly nine months after he entered a shelter.

And a 10-month-old boy, forcibly separated from his father at the U.S.-Mexico border in March, was bitten repeatedly by an older child and later hospitalized after falling from a highchair. He was detained for five months.

ProPublica Illinois has obtained thousands of confidential records about the nine federally funded shelters in the Chicago area for immigrant youth operated by the nonprofit Heartland Human Care Services — some dating back years, others from as recently as last week.

Credit by - Pro Publica

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