Federal officials say 305 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S.-Mexico border were placed with Illinois sponsors this year, but officials say hundreds more could be at shelters.
The country faces a sharp rise in unaccompanied minors. They're placed at government shelters and then released to sponsors as they go through deportation proceedings. Often, sponsors are family members.
The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance contracts with the federal government for area shelters and legal services. The group doesn't make shelter locations public for safety reasons.
The Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families says 305 children were released to Illinois sponsors from Jan. 1 through July 7.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois says federal data released to his office shows 429 were in shelters on July 8.