CHICAGO – Over 400 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) that have been transferred from the southern border to the Chicago area are being cared for by the nonprofit group Heartland Alliance, which also lobbies for minimum wage hikes and government healthcare.
Heartland Alliance (an ACORN-esque organization) is currently under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for nearly $13 million to fund shelter services at Heartland’s nine facilities, which house about 429 of Central American minors that crossed the southwest border without legal guardians.
Another 319 children are in foster care in Illinois, Ashley Huebner, an attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center, told the Sun-Times.
The group gets additional funding from the State of Illinois. The Comptroller’s office shows over $500,000 going to the group in the past five fiscal years.
Heartland Alliance also receives funding from corporate sponsorships, including from Harris Bank and Boeing.
In their 2012 financial report, Heartland Alliance says it raised and spent $86,793,110.
Heartland Alliance doesn’t just care for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) that have been transferred into Illinois. They assist homeless to find housing, they encourage the poverty-stricken to experiment with gardening and they also spend a considerable amount of time lobbying in Springfield – especially on getting dental care for Medicaid patients, raising the minimum wage and setting up state-mandated retirement accounts.
At the federal level, Heartland Alliance promotes various legislative actions:
- Congress must pass legislation and allocate funding that directs states to prioritize vulnerable populations and invest in effective workforce development strategies such as sector-based vocational training, transitional jobs, and contextualized education and training, and allocate funding specifically to support such programs and systems.
- Congress must extend federal unemployment insurance benefits as needed during periods of economic downturn so that workers temporarily disconnected from the workforce can meet their basic needs and focus on reconnecting with employment as soon as possible.
- Federal and state governments must insure that an adequate safety net for people disconnected from the workforce due to a crisis, including emergency assistance, temporary cash assistance, child care, health insurance, and workforce development and training opportunities.
In Illinois, the Heartland Alliance promotes this legislative agenda:
- Raise minimum wage
- Build retirement security for all Illinois workers
- Support Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
Heartland Alliance is also actively involved in the new senior center being built on Halsted to house LGBTQ seniors. The City of Chicago selected Heartland Housing and Center on Halsted to develop the site in February 2012, a Heartland press release says. In March 2013, the Chicago City Council transferred the land over to the Center and Heartland. Construction is expected to be complete in the fall of 2014.
Heartland Alliance is also a part of the Raise Illinois Coalition seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $10.65. The coalition organized rallies and protests in Springfield this spring and is pushing for the minimum wage advisory referendum on the November 2013 ballot.
Other groups listed as part of the Raise Illinois Coalition with Heartland Alliance include the Chicago Teachers Union, three SEIU locals and the Chicago Federation of Labor.