United States

Chicago Senator, Kids Make Cards for Children Separated From Parents at Border

"When you're adrift in the world, it's surprising what you hang on to," Durbin said

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said he took a page from granddaughters' playbook last week and delivered handwritten notes of encouragement to children taken to a Chicago shelter after being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, he wants more people to pick up a pen, introducing a "Cards for Kids" initiative. 

"You can let children who've been separated from their parents know you care and want to see them reunited," he tweeted Monday. 

The Democratic senator was at El Valor Carlos Cantu Children and Family Center Monday, where 4- and 5-year-old children were making cards for kids who remain in detention or foster care while federal agencies work to remedy the policy on the order of the president last week. 

In total, there are 66 kids waiting at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. 

"I will tell you it sounds like a little gesture, an empty gesture, but it's not," Durbin said. "When I was at the detention center I saw kids hanging on to them like they were Christmas gifts." 

Last week, Trump bowed to public pressure and reversed a policy of separating adults and children who enter the U.S. illegally together at the border with Mexico, though his "zero-tolerance" policy of criminally prosecuting all illegal border-crossers remains.

Trump made his anti-illegal immigration stance a centerpiece of his presidential campaign and he has pushed for strict policies since taking office. He said during a campaign appearance Saturday in Las Vegas that being for "strong borders, no crime" is a winning issue for Republicans to run on in November's congressional elections.

The House is expected to vote on immigration legislation this week, though its fate is uncertain.

Durbin insulted House bills that have been discussed on immigration reform, instead saying he wants to go back to square one. 

“What we are for is a comprehensive immigration reform. And to make sure that those who come here are treated humanely," Durbin said. "That’s not too much to ask for our great nation.”

Last week, federal authorities were still working on a plan to reunite an estimated 1,800 children with their parents and keep immigrant households together.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a notice saying it is looking into creating 15,000 beds for use in detaining immigrant families. A day earlier, the Pentagon said it was drawing up plans to house as many as 20,000 migrants on U.S. military bases.

Beyond that, however, there were few signs of any relief for parents separated from their children and placed in detention centers for illegally entering the country over the past several weeks.

"When you're adrift in the world, it's surprising what you hang on to," Durbin said. 

Durbin said cards can be sent to the following address:

UAC/ORR Program

ATTN: Cards for Kids

330 C Street, SW

5th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20201

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