As deadline passes, children remain separated from parents in Chicago area

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of families remained separated Friday as the Trump Administration said it met a court deadline to reunite those deemed "eligible" by the government.

That some families remained separated brought criticism from Illinois Democrats, three of whom visited The Heartland Alliance on Chicago's South Side Friday.

The Heartland Alliance said that eight of 73 children remain in its care.

"We took these children from their parents and we have a moral and legal obligation to find their parents, wherever they are," said Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of the 8th Congressional District.

"It is our responsibility to reunite these kids," said Representative Brad Schneider of the 10th Congressional District. "And while these kids are in the custody of the United States government, we must ensure they are given care, education, and the opportunity to continue to grow."

The congressmen called for transparency from Heartland and other organizations that are also involved.

"It's unclear how many of the children being held in the Chicago area are yet to be reunited with families," Krishnamoorthi said. "It may be more than 50."

Nationwide, ABC News reports that 711 children are still separated from their families. The Trump Administration defends that separation and said in a statement:

"...We have reunified all eligible parents in ICE custody with children. The administration continues to comply in good faith with the court's requests while protecting the safety and well-being of all children in our care."

The statement also said some parents were "not eligible" to be reunited with their children.

"Nobody knows what that really means...and they haven't produced a comprehensive list of every child to determine why that is that they haven't done it," said Ed Yohnka of the ACLU of Illinois.

While the congressmen toured one center, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not allowed Senator Tammy Duckworth to tour a facility in Des Plaines.

"What do you have to hide? Let me into this facility. Let me talk to these kids that are there," Duckworth said.

The ACLU promised to fight on behalf of the children, but said there is also a possibility that the children may never be reunited with their parents.

"I think it's entirely likely that there were children who were separated by the U.S. government that will never be reunified with their families," Yohnka said. "That's a stain on our country."

There are also news reports raising questions about facilities in Illinois and Texas.

On Friday, a federal judge in California overseeing the issue will appoint an independent monitor for the Texas facilities.

Locally, Senator Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi and Schneider said it's their job to follow this issue until all the children have been reunited.
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