Some immigrant children in Chicago waiting to be reunited with parents will have to wait longer

A federal judge's order to reunite children under five years old with their parents will not be met in some cases, meaning about 50 children under five will be waiting even longer.

Monday, local officials visited some of the children in the Chicago area waiting to be reunited with their families. They shared that while the staff was loving and the environment was safe, it was not home.

It was a visit filled with emotion for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-9th District) and Congressman Bill Foster (D-11th District).

"You just wish you could sit down with them and hold them and let them know someday they are going to see their parents again," Foster said.

"It's so painful. There are a lot of these children all over the country, there are still some here under five that have not been reunited with their parents," said Schakowsky.

Foster and Schakowsky visited one of seven facilities operated by Heartland Alliance in Chicago, where dozens of children await being reunited with their families. The Heartland Alliance has only shared images not identifying children.

Schakowsky and Foster vowed to pressure the federal agencies to move faster to allow the children to be with the parents after being separated entering the United States from other countries.

"They were looking to us for answers and we can not provide them. We can not tell them what President Trump and the Republicans may or may not do about this situation," said Foster.

"It's just outrageous that we would, for the first time in United States history, decide we are going to take children out of the arms of their parents. Unacceptable!" Schakowsky said.

Monday's visit comes as the federal government is under a federal judge's order to reunify the families.

"We've done long term damage to these children and these families that will never be repaired," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois.

The ACLU is among the organizations pressuring the government to comply with the order and questioning why there wasn't a better plan to track the children and parents who were separated.

Tuesday is the deadline to reunify children under five, but it seems only about half of those 102 children will be returned to their parents by the deadline.

"The notion that there is this kind of cruelty that's been visited on people on purpose by our government should really cause us all to stop and take pause," Yohnka said.

As of Monday, the government reports 54 of the 102 kids under five will be reunited with their parents by Tuesday. The deadline for older children to be reunited is later this month.

The court and political battle is ongoing as these children wait and wonder when they will see their families.
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