Kirk, Local Hispanic Pastors Launch Partnership to Support Immigrant Children in Illinois

Niños de Compasion to Unite Local Pastors with Children Awaiting Immigration and Reunification Process

CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and local Hispanic pastors today introduced Niños de Compasion, a new outreach and support partnership for children who have migrated from Central America to Illinois. Following a briefing with Heartland Alliance, which provides housing, food, and opportunity to those in need throughout the Chicago area, Senator Kirk reached out to the pastors to develop a new partnership to protect these vulnerable children who have come to the Illinois area.

The pastors who participated in the event were Jorge Davila from Fuente de Vida in Villa Park, Paco Amador from Nueva Vida la Villida, Chris Ophus from New Life Community Church in Chicago, Shando Valdez from New Jerusalem Church in Chicago, and Sergio Arlandiz from Little Village in Chicago.

“I have seen firsthand how vulnerable these children are, having escaped homes surrounded by gang activity and violence. These children need our protection and care,” Senator Kirk said. “As they await the immigration process, Niños de Compasion will keep them safe with trusted members of our community, and will work to reunite these children with their families in a secure and efficient manner.”

Senator Kirk’s Niños de Compasion will be a partnership with local pastors to work with Heartland Alliance to protect the hundreds of vulnerable immigrant children in our community. It will work to connect the pastors and community groups with the children and their families, and will provide ESL training for both children and families, gang-resistance mentoring, faith-based counseling, and pastoral services.

Since October, more than 57,000 children from Central America have crossed the border into the United States. Senator Kirk visited the Heartland Alliance facility in July and met with a number of children who have immigrated to the United States from violent homes in Central America. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, As of July 8th, there were currently 429 children in custody and being housed in Illinois.