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Champaign-Urbana, Bloomington-Normal prepare to help asylum seekers

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Theodora Koulouvaris at WCIA

Central Illinois immigration advocates are preparing to help hundreds of migrants bused from the southern border of the U.S. […]

Gloria Yen, Director of the New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA, told WCIA in an email that their organization expects that for the next 15 weeks, roughly 1,000 migrants will arrive each week. […]

“This [gubernatorial] declaration will free up the resources to really treat the situation, and the people here with the dignity that they need,” said Charlotte Alvarez, Esq., the executive director of the Immigration Project. […]

“They’re passing through our downstate communities, and bus drivers are just telling people, if you want to get off here you can,” Alvarez said. […]

[Gloria Yen, Director of the New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA] said some migrants arriving in Chicago are in great need of mental health and medical care.

“Some folks walked through the jungle,” Yen said. “Others threw their children and then themselves onto moving train cars and sustained injuries.”

* Charlie Schlenker at WGLT

The mayor of Normal, Chris Koos, said, at the most recent meeting of the Illinois Municipal League, city leaders from across the state discussed taking in migrants to ease the burden, in answer to Chicago’s appeal for help.

“Communities in Illinois will probably step up and help as much as they can,” said Koos.

The Town of Normal is exploring how it would cope if a bus of migrants arrived and whether there is room for them. Koos said the town needs to understand the logistics of what would happen.

“The first thing that comes to mind is housing,” said Koos. “Where would we put people? Housing is so tight in this market already. So, we have to have a clear understanding, and this was advice that we shared with each other in that meeting in Chicago. Going into this, be realistic about what you’re getting involved in and make sure you can actually do what you think you want to do.” […]

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe said, for example, the community also would need to mobilize service providers to deal with an influx.

“I would hope that prior to something like that happening, we would get a head’s up,” said Mwilambwe, adding the city would be hard pressed to quickly absorb any migrants.

“As you know, I am an immigrant myself and I have been welcomed in this area,” he said. “So, there is a culture and a tradition of being compassionate towards individuals who have needs. We’ll do the best we can.”

* Meanwhile, in Chicago

Catholic Charities is among the groups providing assistance to the migrants, who include asylum seekers. […]

“Treating children of God as political pawns is unbecoming of any elected official, especially when it involves marginalized, suffering people,” Cardinal Cupich said in a Sept. 2 statement. “The Archdiocese of Chicago stands with local municipal and religious leaders who have pledged to support these new arrivals seeking better, safer lives.”

Once the first buses arrived, the migrants were shuttled to a shelter where they could get a hot meal and shower and sleep for the night, and the next day they were brought to an intake center where they received health screenings and help figuring out their next steps. […]

[Marie Jochum, senior director of special projects for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago] said many parishes and individuals have contacted Catholic Charities to see how they can help. All donations and volunteers are being cleared through the city of Chicago, which has posted a list of needed items at […]

Jochum said that Catholic Charities and the other organizations that are involved, including the Salvation Army, the National Immigration Justice Center, the Resurrection Project, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, among others, and various government agencies, have a lot of experience providing this kind of help.

Catholic Charities, which is providing case management services for individuals and families, has a longstanding refugee resettlement program, working with people who come to the U.S. with refugee status, she said. Those refugees have more resources from the federal government when they arrive, but they have similar needs.

The agency has also been fielding more requests from asylum seekers who come on their own to seek emergency assistance, she said. It also has reached out to sister Catholic Charities agencies in New York and Washington to learn from their experiences with busloads of migrants arriving from Texas.

* And this is just bad reporting from NBC 5

However, a western suburb received a bus of 64 migrants last week without prior notice from city officials, with the village of Burr Ridge accommodating the asylum-seekers on the fly.

What a crock. The asylum seekers weren’t dumped in Burr Ridge with no place to go or with no services the way Texas is dumping them in Chicago. The Burr Ridge government didn’t have to do anything, except complain, which they did.

* More…

* Immigrants bused to Chicago from Texas need emergency housing, healthcare: In just a month, more than 650 people seeking asylum have been bused from Texas to Chicago. Volunteers and nonprofits are meeting people as they arrive and helping to provide housing, healthcare and food. But these immigrants are in a precarious position because they can’t legally work in the country until six months after they submit their asylum application. Meanwhile, that application process requires money for legal fees, and many of the non-profits that help immigrants with this process are already at capacity.

* West Ridge’s Shuttered YMCA Being Used To House Migrants Bused In From Texas: The Red Cross and Salvation Army are providing meals and other basic needs for those staying in the YMCA building, according to Silverstein. The National Guard is helping to staff the makeshift shelter and the YMCA is providing around-the-clock security.


  1. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:14 am:

    Nice statement by Cardinal Cupich. More leaders should step up and call these Governors out for such a cruel and transparent stunt.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    When the E-Van-Gel-Eye-Cals decide to go after these types of welcoming by religious leaders… remember…

    Bailey and all of his ilk that decide that they are people of Faith… they are whom Matthew warns, the phonies, the fakes, the ones who do NOT live lives of Faith.

    I’ll now sit and wait as Bailey and others will misrepresent and/or misquote biblical verses refuting these statements.

  3. - H-W - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:36 am:

    == They’re passing through our downstate communities, and bus drivers are just telling people, if you want to get off here you can, Alvarez said. ==

    At what point does this become human trafficking? It seems to me if governors and the feds. were to start seizing buses and plains used to illegally transport asylum seekers, and start arresting people who are doing this human trafficking of immigrants, the governors of Texas and Florida and Arizona might be compelled to follow the law themselves, and work with the legal system, rather than against it.

  4. - Lurker - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:45 am:

    Someone tell Bailey that the Catholics are leading the way in word and deed as Christians … again

  5. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:45 am:

    I’m really impressed with Koos and Mwilambwe. Housing is a challenge in the area, but they also have a long term labor shortage that new immigrants can help fill and with Heartland there are excellent training opportunities.

  6. - Groucho - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:54 am:

    Why can’t we mobilize our resources as swiftly to house and feed our own homeless? You won’t see the bussed-in refugee’s housed in tents under Lake Shore Drive. I am not suggesting we should not help the refugees, we absolutely should, I am just curious as to what it would take motivate our local politicians to respond a little better to our homeless problem?

  7. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 10:57 am:

    “Treating children of God as political pawns is unbecoming of any elected official, especially when it involves marginalized, suffering people”

    For I was desperately fleeing oppression, and you did not care for me but used me to spite your political opponents.

  8. - Flying Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:07 am:

    Groucho-your assumption is based on “our own” homeless wanting assistance.

    Believe it or not, often assistance comes with rules that have to be followed, which some homeless find…restrictive.

  9. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:20 am:

    If these asylum seekers could get work permits, B-N has a ton of openings for entry-level workers.

    Unfortunately affordable housing is an issue. The developers stopped building that much new housing after State Farm set up their hubs and then Rivian exploded so the housing market is bonkers.

    And to the extent that new apartment buildings go up, they seem geared toward ISU parents who want their college student children to live in the lap of luxury and not for working families. And the landlords and the builders are the same so they dont want to build more and risk tamping down what they can charge the renters.

    Not sure how this problem is fixed short of me winning the lottery and building more apartment buildings for B-N just because it is the right thing to do.

  10. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:27 am:


    It looks like they do from time to time:

  11. - illinifan - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:31 am:

    Groucho many of the organizations helping the Asylum applicants also work with the homeless. Each group presents with a different set of problems and funding resources are different thus presenting the challenge to accomplishing what you suggest. NIMBY is a big issue with housing persons who are homeless. Some communities see the asylees in a different way so the community is willing to house them.

  12. - Proud Sucker - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:33 am:

    I believe DeSantis is Catholic. I wonder if he will heed the Cardinal’s words. Some penance perhaps? He’s probably aware of the Pope’s admonitions too. Weird that he ignores the leaders of his church. Of course, Henry VIII (and several other monarchs throughout history) did the same.

  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:34 am:

    ===I am just curious as to what it would take motivate our local politicians to respond a little better to our homeless problem? ===

    It’s a good point and should be made more often.

    I was in Amsterdam pre-pandemic and noticed that there were no visible homeless people. I had just come from Paris where I was routinely stepping around homeless folks on sidewalks.

    ===which some homeless find…restrictive===

    In Amsterdam, they provide housing for the homeless without all the onerous rules and screening that we have here. It can’t be cheap, but it appeared to work.

    More info here:

  14. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:35 am:

    @ cermak_rd, thanks for posting that report to give insight into what the governments have assessed and are doing to help those without housing. But I think Groucho’s statement is still valid. too often coalitions for the homeless emphasize huge numbers including those who stay with others temporarily. while this is certainly of great concern, people on the streets have a much higher priority and should be treated as such. I’m happy that many government officials are responding to the asylum seekers, and individuals, many whom I’ve seen organizing supply drives.Burr Ridge mayor, you make me not want to buy in your community and I regularly do that. rethinking.

  15. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:45 am:

    Abbott is also Catholic. The Cardinal may be leading the way, but they must have a very different version of the Bible in the South. Grandson of Man appears to have gotten a hold of a copy of it.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:52 am:

    If you are questioning the idea that these governors, Bailey, these “Folks of Faith” may be a bit disingenuous…

    … you’re likely not the target audience for either the grift, or of the phony faith to hide real racism.

    It’s more interesting when the phony goes after actual Christian tenets like supporting those poor and needy. It’s usually with some sort of white anger that looks for a misquoted Bible passage for cover

  17. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:54 am:

    =Central Illinois immigration advocates are preparing to help hundreds of migrants bused from the southern border of the U.S.=

    Bailey’s church? What about the Lutheran “god is a god of war church”? Crickets I guess. Such nice chreestians.

  18. - Bob Meter - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 11:57 am:

    I would equate Burr Ridge with Martha’s Vinyard. Wealthy generally white communities that are very unwelcoming to poor people unless they are actively working to serve them. Serving at low wages too and when their services are no longer needed they can leave town too. Spoiled hypocrites.

  19. - Da big bad wolf - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 12:08 pm:

    Re the homeless issue, in Chicago the majority of homeless are doubled up, staying on the couch of friends/relatives. Also in Chicago low income housing is hard to build, as soon as one is proposed the NIMBY crowd shut it down. What to do? Tax incentives for people to help homeless double up.

  20. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 12:19 pm:

    - It can’t be cheap, but it appeared to work. -

    From my limited reading on the subject these programs often pay for themselves by reducing costs associated with healthcare and crime.

  21. - 40,000 ft - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 1:24 pm:

    Being 1/650 in Illinois has to be better than being 1/1,000,000+ in south Texas.

  22. - Blake - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 1:28 pm:

    Bob Meter, good point about Burr Ridge. This has been my thought about those against new warehouses coming to their area. Jobs for people without a Bachelor’s not directly serving them=they’re opposed to those jobs being near them

  23. - dbk - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    “It’s a good point and should be made more often.”

    Finland - the entire country - has almost entirely eliminated homelessness, and by 2025 it’s projected to have no homeless persons.

    It can be done if there’s the political will to do it as there is in Finland.

  24. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 2:24 pm:

    I think your link got munged
    I found it here:

  25. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Sep 21, 22 @ 4:18 pm:

    Finland went housing first. They figure everything from healthcare to treat an addiction or mental illness can be better carried out when the person has an address.

    A big part they stress is that the government (and Finland is a hyvinvointivaltio–social welfare state)–owns a lot of the housing. They built housing for this project. They figured out that just cutting checks to existing landlords would only result in higher rents and be counterproductive.
    I like the idea of a government building/buying 3 flats, rehabbing them to have 6 units basically 6 studios each of which has a small bedroom and bath. Such would even be configured good enough for families for temporary living. And then spread these around so every ward has one. NIMBYs are going to NIMBY though. However, I like this plan better than the build a bunch of luxury units the YIMBYs are fond of.

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