Chicago agency housing immigrant children denies reports of abuse

The Chicago agency housing immigrant children separated from their parents is defending itself against reports of abuse.

“I cried almost every day when I wasn't with my mother,” said 9-year-old Diogo Souza.

Souza is one of six children who told reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times about abuses they witnessed in Chicago shelters, such as children having to clean toilets without plastic gloves, or getting injections to sleep.

Heartland Alliance issued a report Tuesday saying those claims are unfounded.

“We launched an internal investigation so we could bring to light and address any issues in order to insure that children in the shelters are safe,” said Evelyn Diaz, president of Heartland Alliance.

Souza and another boy, Diego Paixou, say they witnessed a child getting injections to calm him down.

“There is no evidence of any child being injected in the classroom, which was the allegation. In addition, interviews of doctors and nurses and staff and others,” said Linda Coberly, a Heartland Alliance board member.

Heartland Alliance officials, who declined to go on camera, say they have no clue why the boys would make up such stories.

“I wish there was an easy way for me to say what they saw and why they said what they said, but there is unfortunately no easy answer,” Coberly said.

As to cleaning toilets, Heartland Alliance did say the children's daily routines might include age-appropriate chores, under the supervision of trained staff.

As to giving these kids drugs, a federal judge in Los Angeles just ruled that immigration officials must get consent from a parent, or a court order, before giving any psychotropic medications to children in custody.