Democratic Rep. Accuses CBP Of 'Kidnapping' Three U.S. Children After They Were Detained At Chicago Airport

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is facing fresh scrutiny after agents detained three children, all U.S. citizens, for more than 10 hours on Thursday morning at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

In a statement to Newsweek, CBP spokesperson Steve Bansbach said the three sisters, aged 9, 10 and 13, had been escorted to the U.S. by a Mexican citizen, who was identified by local news broadcaster WGN9 as their cousin.

"Upon arrival, CBP officers deemed the adult female inadmissible," Bansbach said.

As a result, CBP agents detained the three young girls, while attempting "numerous times" to reach family members to pick them up.

After 13 hours of the children being held in CBP's custody, agents were finally able to reach the girls' mother, who was able to come and pick them up, WGN9 reported.

While CBP said the mother had been able to pick up the girls "without incident," Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who had been at O'Hare when the incident unfolded and sought to resolve the situation with CBP, condemned agents for detaining the three children in the first place.

"I feel that it's a kind of kidnapping of children by our government," she said. "And I'm really fed up with what we are doing."

Schakowsky was, of course, not the only one fed up with the situation, with activists making their way to O'Hare after learning about the three girls' plight.

Holding up signs calling for immigration officials to stop using children as "pawns" and for the abolishment of ICE, protesters crowded around the Democrat as she called for the three girls to be released.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the girls were given food and drinks before being released to their mother.

The mother, who is not a U.S. citizen, told the newspaper that her daughters had traveled to Mexico for the first time with a relative and were coming back home when they were detained.

She said that she was afraid that she could be arrested if she went to retrieve her children.

"I was really scared but I reacted and thought, we have rights and I called the Mexican Consulate," she told the outlet. "I thank God I made that decision."

According to the mother, an official from the Mexican Consulate helped negotiate an agreement to allow the girls' mother to pick up children without fear of being taken into custody herself.

Three children were detained for more than 10 hours at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Scott Olson/Getty