Hi and hola. This week we wanted to tell you about our reporting on what’s happening inside the 11 shelters for immigrant children in Illinois — and how you can help us do more. We published a story on Thursday that revealed how “lax” supervision at these shelters — nearly all run by a prominent nonprofit that has received little scrutiny until now — has contributed to sex between children, an alleged inappropriate relationship between an employee and a teenager, and at least 10 runaways. The story followed another last week about these shelters, all but two of which are run by Heartland Human Care Services. Heartland officials said the incidents “represent highly rare occasions,” that they take “swift and appropriate action” when necessary, and report all incidents to state and federal authorities.
We also are publishing these stories en español. This is something we’ve wanted to do for some time and these stories, in particular, are so important to many people in Chicago’s Spanish-speaking immigrant communities. We want to give a shout-out to Carmen Méndez, our translator, and to our new Spanish-language media partners who are helping us get the word out: Univision Chicago and Sin Censura Con Vicente Serrano. If you want to be our partner, or just steal our stories to republish, here’s how.
Our colleagues at the national ProPublica office also are doing more — both on immigration, and to reach Spanish-language audiences. Here’s a story reporters Michael Grabell and Topher Sanders published last week on sex abuse at shelters for unaccompanied minors, and another from Kavitha Surana on the reunification of an immigrant mother with her daughter after more than 100 days of separation. And here’s a new page we unveiled this week that’s home for all of the stories we’ve translated into Spanish.
Finally, we want to ask for your help. We plan to continue reporting on the conditions for the thousands of immigrant children who are housed in Illinois shelters. Five are in Chicago and six are in the suburbs. Please reach out if you know of a child who has been detained, if you work or used to work at one of the shelters, or if you have any information or documents you’d like to share. Here’s some information about how to do that, in English, español and português.
—Melissa Sanchez, Jodi S. Cohen and Duaa Eldeib
Where we’ve been in the news this week:
On our investigation into Chicago-area immigrant shelters:
- Duaa Eldeib and Jodi Cohen joined Niala Boodhoo on Illinois Public Media’s The 21st show | Listen
- Duaa Eldeib and Jodi Cohen joined Tony Sarabia on WBEZ’s Morning Shift. Listen: ProPublica Illinois Sheds Light on Area Shelters Holding Migrant Children
- Melissa Sanchez joined WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. Watch: Allegations of Abuse at Chicago-Area Shelters Housing Migrant Children
- Melissa Sanchez joined Univision Chicago. Watch: ‘Investigación revela que en centros de menores se han registrado presuntos abusos, amenazas y relaciones inapropiadas’
On how the hike in cost of Chicago city sticker violations is leading more black drivers to file for bankruptcy:
- Melissa Sanchez joined John Williams on on WGN radio: “It doesn’t make sense to charge this much for a ticket when only one in three people are paying for it.” Listen.
- Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ’s Elliott Ramos joined WVON’s Perri Small and encouraged people to call in and share their stories.
Also: Mick Dumke joined Tariq I. El-Amin on Radio Islam, a Chicago-based talk show on WCEV, to talk about his reporting on the Chicago Police Department’s error-ridden gang database and public surveillance. Listen here. Read the full story.