Facts About Our Shelters

Heartland Alliance is deeply committed to the fair treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and has been committed to advancing human rights throughout our 130-year history. For the past 23 years, Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS), an affiliate of Heartland Alliance, has operated shelters to care for migrant children who arrive at the border unaccompanied. Leaving children alone at the border to fend for themselves or at risk of detention in deplorable conditions is unacceptable. The differences between our programs and what is being reported about Border Patrol detention facilities are many – below are just a few.

Without nurturing shelters and services like Heartland Human Care Services provides, unaccompanied minors who cross the border into the United States seeking safety are vulnerable to trafficking and other abuses. We know this after 23 years’ experience of caring for and reunifying thousands of children. Our mission to protect vulnerable children and connect them as quickly as possible to a safe environment is more important than ever.

Unaccompanied minors arrive to our country alone, scared, and often traumatized from their journey fleeing a dangerous situation. Heartland Human Care Services provides a compassionate, peaceful, and healing setting until they can be united with family or a sponsor in the U.S. For decades, we have served unaccompanied minors with the same level of strengths-based, trauma informed care as we do in all of our other programs.


Reported conditions at border facilities

Run by multi-lingual human service staff: teachers, therapeutic clinicians, case managers. Primary mission is child welfare/well-being through a trauma-informed approach

Run by government law enforcement: exist with the primary objective of detention and law enforcement

Heartland Human Care Services is a non-profit that serves people facing poverty, displacement, and injustice to help them achieve safety, stability, and success.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

Residential buildings that provide separate and ample space for meals, bedrooms, education, healthcare, and play

Cramped conditions, cages, holding cells

Dedicated bedtime and each child has their own bed

Lights on 24/7

Daily outdoor activity; weekly field trips to museums, parks, theaters, as well as cross-cultural experiences with local students and faith-based groups

Little to no outdoor activity

Fresh clothing and new toiletries provided upon arrival and
as needed

No toothpaste/soap, wearing dirty clothes

Three well-balanced meals and healthy snacks are provided daily

Poor food conditions

A dedicated staff member for up to 8 children, full access to healthcare and legal services, 6 hours of daily education, counseling, and staff dedicated to expediting family placement

Children often have no one addressing family placement or access to other supports