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As Lightfoot departs office, where’s the plan for helping migrants?

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here’s some background if you need it. Block Club Chicago

In her farewell speech Monday, outgoing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot touted her accomplishments during a term marred by a pandemic, civil unrest and a skyrocketing homicide rate.

But she failed to address the escalating crisis the city faces now that has left migrants without beds and showers living on floors of police stations and respite centers as officials scramble to serve the thousands of new people arriving in Chicago.

Alderpeople and those working on the front lines with migrants say Lightfoot’s team was “woefully unprepared” to tackle the crisis. And Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, who takes office next week, hasn’t offered up a specific plan, either.

* More Block Club

Other alderpeople Monday criticized the city and state response to the unfolding crisis. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) suggested that National Guard armories around the city could be good sites to temporarily house migrants.

“There really isn’t a single element of this response that’s adequate,” Hopkins said.

* FOP President John Catanzara lodged a complaint about the city housing migrants at police stations in April. But now the Police Sergeants’ Association is speaking up. WGN

Another police union is calling out the City of Chicago for sending newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers to police stations for extended periods of time.

James Calvino, president of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association, penned an open letter to the City where he claims, “families are remaining in stations for days and, sometimes weeks at a time.” […]

One mother told WGN she and her two daughters had been shipped back and forth between the 8th and 14th district police stations while waiting for placement at a shelter. […]

“If a Police Officer was to walk into a home with the same conditions that exists in the stations,” reads Calvino’s letter, in part. “They would be forced to call DCFS and remove any/all children, due to the poor conditions.”

Click here for the full letter from Calvino

* ABC Chicago

The New Life Center in Little Village is packed as more migrants arrive in Chicago every day, and with the pandemic-era Title 42 police ending Thursday, an even larger flood of new arrivals is expected.

All who are sent to Chicago are in need of food, shelter and resources.

“We are anticipating that it will continue to grow. What’s already happening will just continue to grow,” said Chris Ophus, assistant director of New Life Centers. […]

“The biggest thing is probably there is a need to open more shelters. There is going to be a need to open more shelters,” Ophus said.

In April, the Tribune reported that 12 migrant shelters had been closed, leaving just eight.

* WSJ

Chicago leaders say they are working on plans to accommodate the expected influx, but haven’t released many details.

“We’ve been thinking about a potential surge since the beginning of the year, knowing that May 11 was coming,” said Nubia Willman, the city’s chief engagement officer for communities.

The city last week started using parks buildings to temporarily house some migrants. The city has also proposed using the former South Shore High School building for what it is calling a respite center where migrants could wait for shelter beds, taking pressure off police stations. Community leaders near the high school have complained that they didn’t have input into the decision, echoing a controversy at another shuttered school, Wadsworth Elementary, which is being used as a shelter for about 500 migrants.

Chicago’s mayor-elect, Brandon Johnson, said he would work toward a coordinated response at the city, state and federal level, adding: “I’m going to work collaboratively with the people of Chicago and alderpersons who represent areas where we can be supportive for asylum seekers to make sure every community, and every person in it, is protected.”

       

16 Comments
  1. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 11:48 am:

    Where are the success stories from the Federal, State and Local governments that are dealing with unprecedented situation?

    I have yet to see any


  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 11:52 am:

    LP, that’s a really good point.


  3. - City Guy - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 11:53 am:

    One suggestion is to speak with the Archdiocese and see if there are any unused convents that can house people. Because they have individual bedrooms and common eating/living spaces, they work well for emergency housing.


  4. - Semi-retired - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 11:56 am:

    I really believe that the state of Illinois needs to seek out a 3rd party for this crisis. The private sector, if given the chance should have answers that are not being addressed.


  5. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 11:58 am:

    ==Where are the success stories from the Federal, State and Local governments that are dealing with unprecedented situation?==

    This is why I brought up the migrant situation in the Houston post yesterday. “First, give them a home” seems like an extremely relevant idea in this situation, too.


  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===The private sector, if given the chance ===

    What’s needed is housing.


  7. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 12:09 pm:

    ==What’s needed is housing.==

    Yes, which is the major limitation of what I’ve said about Houston. There are plenty of ideas on what we can *turn into* housing, but the “turn into process” is not just flipping a switch.


  8. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===Where are the success stories from the Federal, State and Local governments that are dealing with unprecedented situation?

    Good point. I know of some in Minnesota as I work with resettlement orgs and workforce training and it’s very true the success stories don’t get out there (not saying all are successes, but there are a lot of successes as people are able to get into the labor market).


  9. - P. - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    Mayor-elect Johnson can not call it a “crisis” all they want but based on what they are struggling to manage now vs what could be coming in the couple weeks the situation is going to become significantly more challenging


  10. - levivotedforjudy - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 1:15 pm:

    Johnson has two things going for him that Lightfoot didn’t have. He will have a great relationship with Cook County and he has already found common ground with the various members of the IL Municipal League. This effort has to be “coordinated” with all stakeholders in IL on the same page. Next, philanthropists and the business community need to come to the table. JB and Johnson can do that (and Johnson has already reached out to some business associations) - smart move). D.C. is still AWOL though.


  11. - newz - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 2:05 pm:

    According to CBS, the Mayor has issued a State of Emergency on this issue. Press conference at 2:30.


  12. - OneMan - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 2:09 pm:

    Mayor Lightfoot issued an emergency declaration today.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/lightfoot-emergency-migrants/#:~:text=CHICAGO%20%28CBS%29%20%E2%80%93%20Mayor%20Lori%20Lightfoot%20issued%20an,what%20her%20office%20called%20a%20%22national%20humanitarian%20crisis.%22


  13. - Forever906 - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 2:26 pm:

    The number one issue is temporary work status. They are here to work and make money and can’t legally do so. We can’t get them incorporated into the legitimate economy because too many Republicans in Congress don’t want them here at all. This can only be fixed federally.


  14. - low level - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 2:38 pm:

    The spin doctoring shown by the departing mayor was truly mind blowing.


  15. - Betty Draper’s cigarette - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 3:00 pm:

    === The number one issue is temporary work status. They are here to work and make money and can’t legally do so. We can’t get them incorporated into the legitimate economy because too many Republicans in Congress don’t want them here at all. This can only be fixed federally.===
    Yes only Congress can fix this for good.
    But since they are refugees waiting for their court date they can work in 6 months.


  16. - Han Nominous - Tuesday, May 9, 23 @ 9:35 pm:

    There are a lot of empty K-marts around Chicago, and likely other empty buildings as well, both industrial and office, that could be used for temporary housing. Obviously, those buildings would have to be leased from their owners, including costs of utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc., by the State of Illinois. “Housing” doesn’t need to be a five-star hotel, it needs to provide basic shelter, climatization, nutrition, educational and sanitary facilities, some of which can be modeled after refugee camps run by UNHCR, etc.. My guess is the National Guard already has plans in place for such accommodations in the event of natural disaster.

    The refugees’ time in these facilities should be devoted to learning English and local laws, children need to attend school of some sort, and maintenance tasks need to be assigned to those staying in them as a condition of occupancy. Families and females need to be housed separately from single men. The bottom line is, this is a crisis and must be treated as such, and the goal of the refugees needs to be to ready themselves to become independent and self-supporting as soon as conditions permit.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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