Chicago offers shelter for Central American children

Chicago, Jul 26 (EFE).- The city of Chicago has offered temporary shelter for up to 1,000 unaccompanied, undocumented Central American children who crossed the southern border to enter the country over the past few months, local media reported Saturday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the daily Chicago Tribune that the influx of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has become a humanitarian crisis "that we can no longer ignore."

"We cannot turn our backs on children that are fleeing dangerous conditions. We will do our part to ensure that these children are given access to services and treated fairly and humanely," he said.

The idea is that Chicago City Hall would work to prepare housing that would be available before the end of the year, in order to join with other local organizations that have already taken children into their care or that have extended offers to help the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services in that regard.

At present there are nine refuges in the Chicago area that shelter 429 immigrant children and which are run by the non-profit organization Heartland Alliance, which also supervises another 319 minors already placed in the care of family members in the area.

For its part, the Chicago Archdiocese announced that in August it will apply for federal authorization to receive Central American minors, who will be cared for by a religious academy that works with children and families in trouble, as well as by the local branch of Catholic Charities.

The city government will also seek free help from law firms in the Chicago area to work on immigration and asylum procedures for the youngsters.

Expenditures on education, healthcare, food, security and social services for the children will be handled by the U.S. Department of Health and Public Services.