Travelers walking through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

Three children were detained at a Chicago airport Thursday after customs officials said the adult they were traveling with was “inadmissible” and their undocumented parents refused to pick them up due to fear of deportation.

According to, United States Customs and Border Protection agents stopped the children and the adult traveling with them at O’Hare International Airport at around 3 a.m. local time after the female Mexican citizen did not have a proper visa to enter the country.

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A government official said officers attempted numerous times to contact the family of the three girls, ages 13, 10 and 9, but were unable to reach a parent or guardian. Eventually, the mother of the children arrived and picked them up without incident.

West Suburban Action Project (PASO) staff attorney Iriz Gutteriez Berrios said the parents called the Mexican Consulate after being contacted by customs agents, as they were concerned the children were being used as a trap to detain and deport them.

Customs and Border Protection officials said the children were detained for their protection and were only released to the mother to ensure their safety. The undocumented mother was not arrested when she arrived at the Chicago airport.

“I feel that it’s a kind of kidnapping of children by our government and I am really fed up,” Democratic Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky told the Chicago Sun-Times.