Fear is increasing for the health of migrant children following reports of an outbreak of flu, tuberculosis and chickenpox at a non-profit shelter in Chicago.
Heartland Human Care Services, which operates five reception centers in Illinois, said it has seen an increase in communicable diseases among minors arriving there after processing at congested customs and border protection facilities at the border.
& # 39; The biggest increase in the disease that we are currently seeing is flu, fever, and throat infection & # 39 ;, a Heartland spokesperson told DailyMail.com. & # 39; The peak in these infectious diseases is significant and unlike what we have seen before. & # 39;
& # 39; Historically, we have occasionally seen cases of tuberculosis and chickenpox; lately we have seen them come in clusters & # 39 ;, the statement continued.
Heartland Human Care Services, which operates five reception centers (above) in Illinois, said it has seen an increase in communicable diseases among minors arriving there from CBP custody
One of the Heartland amenities can be seen above. The non-profit says that children come from CBP facilities with flu, chickenpox and tuberculosis
& # 39; As always, children receive routine medical care during their stay and immediately receive any acute or emergency health needs & # 39 ;, the statement continued.
"We want to underline that we are committed to providing a safe haven for these children, who are still affected by the inhumane and deplorable policies of the current federal government," the spokesperson said.
Heartland's facilities include around 400 children who were detained by the Dutch DPA after they had crossed the border illegally, with the vast majority traveling as unaccompanied minors.
CBP is supposed to transfer custody of unaccompanied children to Health and Human Services within 72 hours – although reports are widespread of huge backlogs that keep children in CBP processing for days and even weeks.
HHS contracts private shelters throughout the country, such as those managed by Heartland, to care for many of the children.
Although the details of the current contract are unclear, Heartland received around $ 25 million in tax money in 2015 for the care and placement of around 1,100 children, according to an HHS inspector general. report.
The non-profit said that of the 374 children currently in custody, 15 are divorced from their parents, in most cases because of a current or earlier charge against the parent, according to ProPublica Illinois, who reported the outbreak for the first time.
Migrants who cross the border illegally are first processed in overcrowded CBP stations such as the one above in McAllen, Texas
Unaccompanied minors are then transferred to HHS, which contracts groups such as Heartland to take care of them. Snack time at a Heartland facility can be seen above
The shelters in Heartland have tackled the increase in infectious diseases by converting one-room bedrooms into medical isolation rooms to quarantine affected migrants.
Shelter officials said the quarantines add even more stress to children who already exhibit & # 39; behavior consistent with trauma & # 39; s increased anxiety & anxiety & # 39 ;.
In an online fact sheet, Heartland officials emphasize that their shelters are different from the overwhelmed processing stations at the border.
& # 39; Leaving children alone at the border to stop for themselves or threaten to be detained in deplorable circumstances is unacceptable & # 39 ;, said the factsheet, which says the organization & # 39; treatment & # 39; refugees and asylum seekers.
The average length of stay for children in Heartland facilities is currently 56 days, the organization says.
This graph shows arrests at the southern border this year (red) compared to previous years
CBP says it has been overwhelmed by a huge wave of illegal crossings and has called on Congress to resolve legal gaps that allow many Central Americans to stay in the United States indefinitely after entering the US illegally.
In June, 94,897 people were detained between ports of entry on the southern border, a drop-off from May but far above last year's number.
Since September, 63,624 unaccompanied children and 390,308 family units have been arrested illegally crossing the southern border, numbers that are respectively 70 percent and 469 percent higher than those of last year.
Full statements from the Heartland Alliance
& # 39; We are seeing an increase in infectious diseases in our population of children who recently entered our daycare centers, and we follow best practices and compassionate care to help the children heal and to prevent the diseases from spreading.
& # 39; The biggest increase in the disease that we are seeing now is flu, fever, and sore throat. The peak in these infectious diseases is considerable and in contrast to what we have seen before.
& # 39; Historically, we have occasionally seen cases of tuberculosis and chickenpox; lately we have seen them come in clusters. HHCS has licensed doctors to staff who treat a participant who comes to us sick.
& # 39; As always, children receive routine medical care during their stay and immediately receive any acute or emergency health needs. HHCS doctors are supported by onsite physician assistants and other nursing support staff. In addition, HHCS makes use of the extensive healthcare and hospital system in Chicago where necessary. & # 39;
& # 39; Heartland Alliance continues to provide unaccompanied minors seeking safety and refuge in our country by providing caring, trauma-informed care to five Chicago shelters managed by Heartland Human Care Services.
& # 39; A recent article refers to the situation in which children arrive at our shelters – and our response to a more traumatized population. We want to emphasize that we are committed to providing a safe haven for these children, who are still influenced by the inhumane and deplorable policy of the current federal government.
& # 39; Since last summer and the devastating zero tolerance policy, we have added staff and strengthened our clinical, educational, medical and therapeutic services. The health and well-being of children under our care are of primary importance. All children we serve receive immediate care for acute or emergency health needs and are always provided with routine medical care.
& # 39; We are strongly opposed to the criminalization of children and families as a result of government immigration policies and the inhumane treatment of children and families at the border. See (this fact sheet) to gain extra perspective on our approach to care, and the stark contrast to what is being reported at borders. & # 39;
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