Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Migrant children in Chicago-area shelters infected with coronavirus

There are at least 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus among minors in U.S. custody at a Chicago-area migrant housing center, CBS News reported yesterday.

Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit that operates shelters in the Chicago area for unaccompanied migrant children, told CBS that more than half of the 69 minors housed in their facilities have tested positive for the virus. Mailee Garcia, a spokeswoman for the group, said they are “operating under the assumption” that more cases will arise since officials have been working to test the rest of the children in their custody.

“At the first indication of COVID-19 symptoms in our program, we aggressively moved to obtain testing for all of the children in our care — even those who are asymptomatic — which goes even beyond the CDC recommendations,” Garcia said in a statement. “We did this to ensure the highest quality of care to our participants, and to safeguard our staff as well.”

On Monday, ProPublica first reported at least 19 minors and two staff members at the Heartland Alliance shelter in Chicago’s South Side tested positive for coronavirus. According to Garcia, no additional staff members have been confirmed as having the virus.

As of April 9, the ORR said at least 39 personnel at facilities for minors in the agency’s custody had self-reported testing positive for coronavirus. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has come under pressure in recent weeks to release people in custody so they can abide by social distancing guidelines and protect themselves from the virus.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Monday announced legislation that calls for immigrants to be removed from detention facilities and for a halt on immigration enforcement during the pandemic.