The 21st Show

Sick Migrant Kids Sent To Illinois; Counties Collecting Old Debts; Fulton Sheen’s Remains Returned

A resident at the International Children's Center in Chicago is seen in his room Oct. 19, 2006.

A resident at the International Children's Center in Chicago is seen in his room Oct. 19, 2006. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Hundreds of immigrant children who originally came to the southern border are sick, with illnesses like fever, strep throat, and even tuberculosis. Now, they’re being sent alone to Chicago shelters. Plus, Illinois counties are so desperate for revenue that some residents are getting phone calls about unpaid traffic tickets that, in some cases, go back decades. Also, Catholic leaders in Peoria have won a legal battle over the remains of a famous archbishop who could become a saint. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve all been learning more about dangerous overcrowding and the prolonged detention of children and adults at border patrol facilities in Texas. 

There’s been little or no access to showers, clean clothes, or toothbrushes. Bathroom facilities are also limited. The close quarters and lack of sanitation mean disease can spread quickly. 

Now, ProPublica Illinois is reporting that sick children have been sent alone from these border patrol facilities to shelters in Chicago.

In some cases, these children are suffering from fevers, chicken pox, mumps and even tuberculosis. 

And it’s not just physical illnesses that these kids are dealing with. Officials at Heartland Human Care Services, the nonprofit that runs these shelters, say that children are exhibiting behavior consistent with trauma, anxiety and fear when they arrive. 

We were joined by Melissa Sanchez, who has been reporting on this for ProPublica Illinois, and Lisa Wilson, the executive director of the Refugee Center in Champaign-Urbana.


Imagine getting a call from a collection agency about a traffic ticket from more than 30 years ago.  

This happened to one Florida woman who hadn’t lived in Illinois for years, and in this case, it wasn’t even her ticket to begin with. She wasn’t old enough to drive at the time it was issued to someone else in 1983.

It turns out that this is becoming more common. According to reporting from the Chicago Tribune, 40 Illinois counties are relying on a collection agency to round up unpaid tickets.

Mary Wisniewski is a transportation reporter at the Tribune. She joins us now on the phone from Chicago. Nadav Shoked is a law professor at Northwestern University who specializes in local governments. Ken Kriz is a public finance expert and a professor of public administration at the University of Illinois Springfield. And Melanie Little-Seppalla is the woman who got the call about an Illinois traffic ticket that was more than three decades old and wasn’t even hers.


For years, two Catholic bishops - one from Peoria, and one from New York - were in a legal battle over the remains of a potential saint from Illinois.

Fulton Sheen was one of the twentieth century’s most famous Catholics. He also reached millions of people with his radio and TV shows throughout the 50s and 60s. In fact, he was so famous that the actor Martin Sheen even took his stage name from him.

The archbishop was raised and ordained in Peoria. For more than a decade church leaders there have been leading the cause to have him canonized, or made a saint. 

But church authorities in New York City refused to move the archbishop’s remains to Peoria. This dispute actually wound up in the New York Court of Appeals. After years of legal wrangling, the court ruled in Peoria’s favor. A few weeks ago Archbishop Sheen’s remains were brought back to Illinois, and to Peoria.

Jim Keane, the senior editor of America Media, originally reported on this back when the issue was in court.

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