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Crowds ease at Mexican border, but will that lead to fewer asylum-seekers in Chicago?

Friday, Jun 2, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* NBC News

The number of migrants illegally crossing the southwest U.S. border is at its lowest point since the start of the Biden administration, with just over 3,000 migrants stopped by Border Patrol each day. The number has plummeted from more than 10,000 daily just three weeks ago, despite widespread predictions of a surge after the end of the Title 42 Covid ban on May 11.

And there may also be fewer migrants waiting just across the border to cross. Shortly before Title 42 was lifted, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz estimated that up to 65,000 migrants were living in shelters and tent cities in Mexico, ready to enter the U.S. While numbers for tent cities were unavailable, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration said the population of 130-plus shelters in northern Mexico had fallen from above 25,000 on May 19 to just over 20,000 on Monday. […]

Customs and Border Protection officials also attribute the slowdown in illegal border crossings to “consequences.” Under Title 42, migrants could repeatedly try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and face no consequences if they were turned back. After Title 42 ended, migrants who are caught illegally entering the U.S. are charged with a felony if they are deported and caught trying to re-enter the U.S. within five years, a reimposition of an older regulation called Title 8. A CBP official said word of the increased penalties and deportations — of the “consequences” — has reached migrants considering crossing. […]

A Department of Homeland Security official said the agency also attributes the decline to the policy known as asylum ineligibility put in place after the ending of Title 42. Under the new policy, migrants who do not first seek asylum in countries they pass through on the way to the U.S. are deemed ineligible to apply for asylum at the U.S. border, unless they were denied by a country they passed through or they prove they meet a special set of criteria, such as being potential victims of torture if they are deported.

Other factors include the rainy season discouraging travel. Also, the ACLU is suing to block the asylum ineligibility policy, according to the report.

I’ve been checking out El Paso news media outlets the past week or so, including the local Fox affiliate, and I didn’t see any stories about mass crossings. That’s a marked change from a few weeks ago, when national news media was filled with dire predictions about that border crossing. The migrants bused north were mainly from the El Paso crossing.

However, Chicago was only being shipped a small fraction of all asylum-seekers, so don’t get your hopes up yet that the Texas-funded influx will ease.

* Related…

    * From Woodlawn to West Ridge, migrants live in temporary shelters across Chicago: Roughly 10,000 new arrivals have come to Chicago since August of last year — and more than 4,000 of them are living in shelters across the city. To serve these migrants, city officials are currently operating 10 shelters and respite centers in neighborhoods across the city — including the Inn in Streeterville. Some of these shelters have been met with pushback because residents argue the resources dedicated to asylum-seekers should instead be poured into their own disinvested communities. But no neighborhood or section of the city is exclusively bearing the responsibility of providing a place to eat and sleep for asylum-seekers. Shelters span from Woodlawn to West Ridge, from Humboldt Park to Streeterville.

    * Little Village is a model for how to help migrants build new lives: Hyperlocal organizing strategies have been successful specifically because of a strong network of support: a group of people who, regardless of where they work or who they work for, are familiar with and trust each other because of relationships fostered for many years. We update each other daily through group texting, and have weekly check-in calls to share what is happening on the frontlines.

    * One-Day Donation Drive Will Collect Items For Migrants On Northwest Side: Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th), the Irish American Heritage Center, community groups and Northwest Side leaders are hosting a donation drive 3-7 p.m. Monday at the center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., to collect items for migrants. People can donate medical items, personal hygiene products, educational materials, food and water, event organizers said.

    * For migrants, used bikes offer a path forward in an unfamiliar city: In the past few weeks, organizers with Bike Grid Now and Communities United have teamed up to repair used bikes and convert donated bike parts into functioning cycles for people seeking asylum in the city. The work, which started with a few bikes, is scaling into a bigger pipeline project as more donations of equipment and money pour in — and as more migrants arrive.

    * Tempers flare at community meeting about housing migrants at Richard J. Daley College: “You’re not treating our own with any dignity and respect, but you’re treating the immigrants with a lot of dignity and respect. I have a problem with that,” said Juanita Eason, who lives on the Southwest Side. … Officials [say] moving people into Wright College reduced the number of migrants sleeping at police stations from more than 800 last week to less than 640 now.

    * 400 Migrants Will Move Into Daley College This Weekend, But Some Neighbors Oppose City’s Plan: Patrice Beamon, an 18th Ward resident, said she recently drove by the 6th District police station and saw people laying on the concrete outside and in the lobby. She urged her neighbors to think about how they can help. “We’re trying to come up with solutions, but it’s not going to be solved by us attacking one another,” Beamon said, leading to applause from the crowd. “The most important thing is our humanity. When we lose that, we have lost everything.”

    * Edgewater Residents Call for Answers as City Eyes Broadway Armory as Possible Migrant Center: “We couldn’t believe it,” said Linda White, an Edgewater resident. “There’s so many wonderful programs here — dance, fitness and wellness for all the kids and the seniors. They said this will all be shut down and it will become a shelter.” … The building has multiple rooms, five gymnasiums, showers, several bathrooms and a kitchen. “I don’t think I would feel that put out by it, compared with the needs of the migrants,” Buckley said. “It’s a good space and it should be used and hopefully move them on to better housing.”

    * Illinois hotel industry, downtown residents speak out on migrant crisis: According to the association, many of these individuals are staying in hotels that are understaffed and urgently require various positions to be filled, including housekeeping staff, culinary workers, front desk personnel, customer service representatives, and sales and marketing employees. Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, has underscored the importance of addressing this situation promptly. “That’s the crazy thing about this is that we have 1,600 open positions in hotels just in the city of Chicago and we have thousands of migrants looking to work. The math doesn’t add up. People want to work and we have positions open for them and yet, our federal government is telling them you have to wait six months until we allow you to work. Something needs to change here,” Jacobson said.


  1. - SoSider - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:43 am:

    Kudos to Sam Nugent and the Irish Heritage Center for pitching in. My alder, Matt O’Shea, did something similar at a local police station where refugees are being housed last weekend. Both also voted for immigrant funding at city council. Good to see some of the Vallas ward alders recognize that most of their constituents are descendants of immigrants to Chicago.

  2. - H-W - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:09 am:

    I wonder if most middle-aged and older white people like me, realize that we are in many, many cases, the equivalence of “DACA” recipients.

    Older white people are in many cases (like DeSantis, Rubio, Cruz, etc.) the children of people who migrated here and were allowed entry without permits or green cards.

    My paternal grandfather came to Ellis Island in 1913, “without papers.” He boarded a ship in Prussia/Poland, and came here hoping to be allowed to stay. He was. At Ellis Island, they asked a few questions, including “where are you going?” Grandpa Gus said, “to live with my brother-in-law in Chicago.” He was allowed to pass.

    My Grandfather was never able to bring his wife and two children, due to losing track of them in WW-I. He married again in 1925, to the daughter of Irish immigrants who came to America “without papers.”

    My father and his sister where the children of “undocumented immigrants” longing to do better than they could as peasants in Ireland and Prussia.

    Many of us white people have this very same history. Our parents were undocumented, did not speak English, were allowed to stay after they got here, etc. We are their “DACA descendants.”

    My maternal family line goes back to 1655 - Scots-Irish immigrants, willing to be indentured in order to be allowed to come here. And we were allowed to do so, given landgrants and seed corn, etc., after serving.

    The history or white people so very much coalesces with the histories of other immigrants and the descendants of slaves.

    Yet we ignore this. We deny this. We forget this, and then ask that immigrants be persecuted as threats to us “DACA” children.

  3. - levivotedforjudy - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:42 am:

    I live in Edgewater and I am 100% OK with this. This is one of the most diverse communities in Chicago so I will bet most of my neighbors agree. I also agree with Michael Jacobson. You may have a bunch of people who desperately want to work living in a place that desperately needs workers but legally the obvious “common-sense” solution can’t happen. Something does need to change here.

  4. - Jane - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:00 pm:

    I don’t understand the idea that migrants will remedy a labor shortage, especially for the jobs listed of ” front desk personnel, customer service representatives, and sales and marketing employees” — surely the fraction of migrants who speak English well enough to fill these jobs has got to be paltry! And as to housekeeping and culinary workers, isn’t our new mayor bemoaning the lack of jobs for young people?

  5. - Sayitaintso - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:54 pm:

    -H-W- I was told by my grandfather, who came from Italy, that “WOP” stands for ‘With Out Papers’

  6. - H-W - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:14 pm:

    @ SayItAintSo

    Yep. There are a lot of other formerly accepted terms for immigrants that today are clearly seen as hate speech. Another hate term is “wetbacks,” and this word was actually used in the title of a formal U.S. Immigration policy (i.e., Operation xxxx).

    In my course on interethnic/race relations, the books and readings often include these, but I make it clear to my students that these terms will not be openly expressed in class. Nor will we use the N-words, nor the b-word.

    When we begin anew to teach our children that love, respect, compassionate acts toward the widows and orphans, etc. are the foundational tenets of all religions (including atheism), and that hate and fear and judgement are the foundations of evil, perhaps we can move forward again.

    Right now, it seems this 20-year experiment in building a World Wide Web has created much good, but also has enabled our worst sides of our personalities. We seem more concerned with our individuals wants and needs and beliefs than we do with creating the sorts of beloved communities that enable us to flourish collectively.

  7. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:32 pm:

    I fully support immigration reform to make it easier for folks to legally immigrate to our country.

    With that said, Chicago, Cook County and (to a lesser extent) the State of Illinois are getting owned by red state governors that are shipping migrants here for their own political benefit.

    I understand we are a welcoming City. But the financial burden and the resulting blowback from other constituencies is real. Just this week the City Council approved $51 mil in spending for migrant aid that is only projected to last through June. In the meantime, Chicago communities that have been long subjected to disinvestment and crime are wondering why they are not getting the resources needed to improve their communities.

    This is not a sustainable model and something needs to be done at the federal level so cities and states aren’t put in financial jeopardy trying to address these issues.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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