In the wake of more jaw-dropping revelations about the Heartland Alliance in Chicago, local abolitionists call for continued actions.
On Saturday, November 20, around 3:30 PM, a teenager risked his life when he went out a fourth-floor window in an attempt to escape a Heartland Alliance detention facility at 3500 S Giles Ave. He was chased by Chicago Police and Heartland staff, and taken away in an ambulance. A Heartland security staff was heard repeatedly calling the child a trouble-maker and “psychotic.” Instead of addressing why children between ages 3-17 are forcefully detained in this facility to begin with, Heartland staff blame and stigmatise a youth for trying to escape.
Where do children separated from parents, or detained without them at the border go? In #Chicago, journalists at @propublica + community organizers exposed a network of child prisons. Now, we’re publishing testimony from a former staff member. #AbolishICE https://t.co/hMVsUgbcRm pic.twitter.com/wtOGsK8Un9
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) August 20, 2019
Over the last few months, immigrant children held in custody at the Heartland Alliance facility in Bronzeville have been sounding an alarm: refusing food, escape attempts, instances of self-harm, injuries, psychiatric hospitalisations, or children harming themselves or others. Community members gather to stand in solidarity with all detained children and to demand an end to the forced detention of migrant children. Children belong with loved ones, in unrestricted home settings within their communities, not in a prison – no matter how much “better” this prison claims to be.
— chicago anti detention network (@anti_detention) November 23, 2021
Children are being displaced from their homelands. They are fleeing violence, wars, hunger and the effects of climate change – all the results of US intervention and policy. Instead of finding safety, children by the thousands are being re-routed into a network of over 100 detention facilities in the United States that specialize in migrant children. Migrant children are brought here by force and held in 24/7 locked facilities, while loved ones struggle to regain custody. While in lock-up, children cannot leave. They cannot have family visit them. They cannot eat, sleep, play or call loved ones whenever they want to. They are exposed to a regime of 24/7 surveillance and strict control of all their behaviors. Their personal belongings are removed from them. These detention sites advertise themselves as “shelters” and as a “better alternative” to the large-scale detention camps on the border – but they are in fact the centerpiece of the US government’s detention apparatus and a growing sector of the Prison Industrial Complex. For over 25 years, these “nicer” child prisons have been able to operate with very little public opposition. Our silence has enabled the US government to normalize the incarceration of displaced migrant children as a matter of policy. This is what has lead us to the current crisis facing immigrant children and families.
Video + report on #MayDay2020 in #Chicago, as hundreds converged outside of a vacant Heartland Alliance building, a non-profit which jails migrant children. Recently dozens of kids have tested positive for #COVID19. Crowd stormed area outside building. https://t.co/unDhYa2MKc pic.twitter.com/r0PyQFXq6r
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) May 3, 2020
In the wake of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, hundreds of Afghan children are being held in these kinds of facilities. Heartland Alliance has been receiving millions in federal contracts to operate detention facilities for migrant children in Chicago and is currently holding dozens of Afghan children in custody. The media has recently reported on the extreme suffering of these children while in custody, and Senator Dick Durbin has called the situation at the Bronzeville facility a “crisis.” Heartland, a long-time detention profiteer, is cynically using a crisis they helped create as an opportunity to expand their child detention operation. Under the guise of “improving” their services, Heartland is seeking even more funding from the multi-billion dollar child detention industry.
More funding and expanding the capacity to detain children will not solve the crisis.
We refuse to stand by as systematic abuse is co-opted to pilot new forms of human enslavement!
We refuse to allow Heartland to use the suffering they have caused as an opportunity to expand their detention business!
Join us November 24th at 3 PM to stand in solidarity with detained kids – 3500 S. Giles
Join us December 5th at 10am to protest the Heartland Alliance Annual Brunch! – 120 E. Delaware Pl
Not in Chicago? Fight for the total abolition and decriminalization of migration in your area now!