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Asylum-seeker coverage roundup

Monday, Oct 2, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Not helpful on so many levels…

* I’m not sure that this is all city money

During a briefing with reporters, Johnson’s deputy chief of staff, Cristina Pacione-Zayas, said the latest estimate of costs associated with migrants arriving in Chicago from August 2022 to the end of the year could reach $361.3 million, a whopping $58 million more than the previous projection.

With more than 1,800 migrants awaiting shelter placement while housed in Chicago police stations, and another 450 staying at the city’s airports, Pacione-Zayas indicated the administration is not backing down from its contract with GardaWorld Federal Services, which has been at the center of controversies over its handling of migrants elsewhere, and its subsidiary Aegis Defense Services to run “base camp” landing zones.

“GardaWorld can speak to the allegations. That’s not our job,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Our job is to ensure that they’re meeting our expectations, that there is a system of accountability and that we are going to operationalize that.”

* I haven’t been in love with the tent city idea, but the city may have no choice as the numbers increase. From last Wednesday

27 buses carrying migrants arrive in Chicago since Saturday as city moves forward with tent plan

Each bus carries between 40 and 50 people. So, that’s over a thousand people in just a few days.

From Saturday

Nine more buses carrying people arrived in Chicago Friday. That’s the most ever in one day.

Also Saturday

“We were told by OEMC this morning that we would be expecting ten buses today and that every district would receive at least ten more people,” Gomberg said.


“Gov. Abbott is not respecting our curfew of not sending buses from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. He is beefing up contracts with busing fleets and plans to send them 24-7,” Deputy Chief of Staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas, who is managing the migrant issue, told Playbook. “If the trend continues, that means thousands of people daily.”

And it’s not just buses

Chicago began using the city’s two international airports as temporary shelters as the number of migrants arriving by plane increased. Nearly 3,000 people who have arrived by plane since June have sought shelter.

* Back to the tent cities

As the city proceeds with its GardaWorld contract, the potential locations for the large tents could also stir up racial strife. The city is requiring two to three acres on concrete or gravel land for the base camps. The areas that fit that description with vacant land are concentrated on the Far South Side, the same neighborhoods where the majority Black community has cried out for resources. […]

That housing strategy would include existing public buildings, warehouses and privately owned buildings that could house at least 200 people, Vasquez added. He encouraged landlords who owned buildings that meet that requirement to reach out to the city.

* Also

Neighbors in Pilsen will meet Monday night to discuss a plan for the first migrant shelter there.

The meeting will detail plans to turn a warehouse on Halsted Street into a temporary shelter for migrants.

The warehouse, located in the 2200-block of South Halsted Street would be the first city-run shelter in the 25th Ward.

* Coverage follows conflict

In response to the criticism, Pacione-Zayas committed to bringing GardaWorld officials to testify before the committee, as well as Catholic Charities, which has been working to help new arrivals move into more permanent housing.

Long-brewing tension over supporting migrants while the city grapples with existing unhoused residents was on display, too. At one point, the meeting was recessed due to disruptions by a group of public commentators upset over resources being doled out to help new arrivals.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor, 20th Ward, said she sympathized with that anger but urged Black and Latino residents to remember “white supremacy is our enemy.”

Still, she didn’t pull punches in criticizing the administration, urging officials to handle the crisis differently, including by refusing to accept new arrivals. Taylor warned officials they’re “going to start a race war.”

The Cardinal ought to be on the phone asking the Catholic Charities operations in Denver and El Paso to work more closely with the city and to maybe send some folks to other archdioceses.

* More

As their communities deal with a tsunami of new arrivals, voters in those cities are increasingly pointing fingers at Democrats such as Johnson and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Among Black voters, the Democrats’ most reliable base, that anger could put their party in deep peril.

So went my conversation with Perri Small and her listeners on the popular morning show on WVON-AM 1690, Chicago’s Black talk radio. She invited me on last week to chat about the latest in politics. When we hit the migrant issue, the phone lines started sizzling.

“I’m going to tell you, this is a make-or-break issue for WVON listeners and their support of Democratic candidates,” Small declared.

Talk radio, like Twitter, is not real life, but the anger is real.

* Speaking of pushback

A spokeswoman for Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy said the city did not apply for the grant that involves the awarding of millions of dollars to house asylum seekers that was announced by the governor’s office late Friday afternoon. […]

DiBenedetto said the city of Joliet government did not apply for the grant to house asylum seekers coming to Illinois from other countries. Rather, the grant went through Joliet Township government and Supervisor Angel Contreras, she pointed out. […]

Joliet City Councilman Joe Clement said he will speak against the measure during this week’s City Council meetings.

“I follow what’s going on all over the country and I knew it was a matter of time before we would have to address this,” Clement, the at-large Council representative, told Joliet Patch on Saturday.

* The Pritzker administration has already sent people to the border

It was also revealed during the meeting that Johnson and a group of alderpeople plan to head to the Mexico border.

“We need to see what’s going on at the border as buses are coming in daily. We need to see where you’re coming from. We need to be able to talk with folks we need to assess before folks are getting here to the city of Chicago,” Robinson said.

Details on that border visit are expected in the next few weeks.

* More from Isabel…

    * WBEZ | How some Chicago migrants struggling to leave shelters are getting help: Finding landlords who will rent to new arrivals who have no credit or rental history is challenging. “We were running into dead end, after dead end, after dead end, trying to find housing on our own…” said Matt Joynt, a Pilsen resident and volunteer with the mutual aid group Todo Para Todos, which means “everything for everyone” in Spanish. “We were getting quite desperate.”

    * NBC Chicago | Chicagoans, aldermen question city’s response to migrant crisis: Non-profit organizations, such as the Chicago Refugee Coalition, have been providing critical support for migrants who have been brought to the city. Alisa Bhachu, the coalition’s executive director, said she doesn’t think the base camps are a good idea. “I would respectfully challenge the notion establishing multiple tent camps across the city as a durable solution to this crisis,” she stated.

    * Block Club | South Side Nonprofit Helps Hundreds Get CityKey IDs At Community Event: The voluntary program provides identification to undocumented immigrants, homeless individuals, refugees and teens. All Chicagoans — regardless of age, gender, immigration status or housing status — are eligible for the card through the CityKey municipal ID program, run by the Clerk’s Office.

    * Streetsblog | Advocates provide bikes to migrants, request help from CDOT to meet growing demand: “Logistically, it has been very challenging to make this work,” says Andrew Mack, a founder of the organized effort to provide bikes to migrants. “I dropped off a bike at the police station last week and was just surrounded by people asking for bicycles. Right now, it’s on a case-by-case basis.”

    * Eater | As Southern States Bus Migrants to Chicago, Service Workers Are Waiting With Hot Meals: Over the last four months, the owner of Tandoor Char House has distanced himself from day-to-day operations at his three restaurants to focus on converting his River North location into a pantry of sorts, making culturally appropriate meals for the mostly South American migrants housed at police stations across the city. More than 14,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago over the last year or so.


  1. - NotRich - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 10:42 am:

    Gov Abbott is not respecting our curfew!! Lol.

  2. - Montrose - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 10:50 am:

    I have thought all along that a thoughtful, respectful, coordinated strategy that has decent federal funding and moves asylum seekers to different parts of the country is actually a good idea that could be beneficial to both the migrants and the communities they settle in.

    What is happening now is the exact opposite of that. Like Rich, I am not a fan of the tents, but I also don’t have any great ideas about alternatives given the number of people coming to the city. It seems they are standing up bricks and mortar shelters as quickly as they can. The Feds really need to step up with a plan that both supports Chicago and other destination communities and provides longer term solutions. (The TPS is a good start.)

  3. - H-W - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 10:54 am:

    As I noted Friday, Western Illinois (and other Universities) has empty residence halls. They would need to be updated, but with Federal funding and state funding, these facilities could be brought back online quickly (as in, immigration is not going away).

    Sodexo already has the dining facilities, and Macomb has a State Trooper post. The University has the largest LEJA program in the region, and one of the best in the nation. Training students to work with immigrants would be a win-win.

    In the 1940s, we did a similar thing in a place called Ellisville, IL, except it was an ad-hoc prisoner of war camp.

    Thinking outside the box, our Nation and our State can get ahead of this problem, if we want to do so.

  4. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 10:59 am:

    Deputy Chief of Staff Pacione-Zayas asked the federal government to waive the $500 processing fee for TPS applications from Venezuelan migrants. That would be helpful if it happens. However, the City likely would save way more than $500 a person for every person that has work authorization and does not need to rely on assistance.

  5. - DisappointedVoter - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:05 am:

    The Johnson team is all over the place. The floor leader spent all weekend aiming shots at the governor through social media and the deputy chief staff seemed to express thankfulness for all the governor has done. The mayor remains quiet and is missing from the conversation. All while leftist organizations are becoming louder and more critical of the mayor and his admin.

    The mayor is now in a position where he has to play catch up and inspire confidence. Not ideal for someone that is only 6 months in. The city is headed into budget season and the state is a few weeks away from veto session. There is no legislative or communications strategy from the mayor and his team. Pritzker and team put on a masterclass in political and communications strategy in responding to CRR and the Johnson team. Johnson and team should take notes.

    I was happy to vote for Johnson and hope this weekend was a wake up call. It is not too late to turn things around but time is running out and residents’ patience is becoming to wear thin.

  6. - RNUG - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    == Johnson and a group of alderpeople plan to head to the Mexico border. ==

    It might give them a bit more understanding of the challenges the border towns are facing, but it won’t change anything.

    They would be better off going to DC and lobbying Congress to work on immigration reform.

  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:19 am:

    ===but it won’t change anything.===

    It could, depending how they approach it.

  8. - NIU Grad - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:24 am:

    As chaotic as this all is, I don’t want to imagine what kind of Fox News-driven cruelty a Vallas Administration would be throwing into the mix if he was managing this.

  9. - 48th Ward Heel - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:31 am:

    Would it be possible to open an “Illinois Embassy” of a couple people down there to tell migrants who are supposedly choosing to come here what the conditions are, and try and connect them with support and accommodations ahead of time?

    Would it be a moot point in terms of being allowed access to migrants by the State of Texas?

  10. - Sue - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:34 am:

    So with all the cost, disruption and havoc why isn’t there more of a Dem led effort to get Biden to staunch the flow of migrants coming in? Saying the Boarder is secure doesn’t really fly any longer

  11. - Bannockburn Toad - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:37 am:

    Angel Contreras on his 3rd DUI arrest.

  12. - P. - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:52 am:

    If Brandon and his people had it together they would have been working overtime this weekend to cut a ribbon on that CVS shelter with JB asap.

  13. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 11:54 am:

    The Joliet Herald has written a grand total of zero words about this. Almost 3 days now.

    Pages and pages of coverage about weekend high school football games though.

  14. - Jerry - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 12:20 pm:

    The last President built a wall, billed the other country, and they’ve paid for it. Thats what Rightist organizations are telling us. Why is this a problem for Rightist Guv’nors (like DeSantos)?

    All angry snark aside.

    Tents wont work real well during a polar vortex.

  15. - wowie - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 12:37 pm:

    Mayor Johnson’s decision to make CDR floor leader was likely the worst of his administration so far.

    It is no secret that CDR is a firebrand who struggles to get along with his colleagues. In fact, that is his entire brand and has been since he came on the scene.

    The fact that Johnson and his team either A) did not know that or B) ignored it tells you all that you need to know.

    In the words of Logan Roy: You are not serious people.

  16. - wowie - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 12:38 pm:

    And for the record I am a proud Dem voter and am in favor of housing as many migrants as possible. It just irks me when people who have no interest in anything but soundbites are appointed to positions where they need to build consensus and get things done.

  17. - But - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 12:39 pm:

    “As chaotic as this all is, I don’t want to imagine what kind of Fox News-driven cruelty a Vallas Administration would be throwing into the mix if he was managing this.”

    The problem is Vallas isn’t managing this. He lost. The man who won the election is, and he is not inspiring confidence.

  18. - Demoralized - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 1:36 pm:

    ==Saying the Boarder is secure doesn’t really fly any longer==

    Your party’s mantra of “build a wall” isn’t the solution either.

  19. - Demoralized - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 1:37 pm:

    And @Sue maybe you should tell your party that sticking these poor people on a bus and shipping them around the country isn’t the solution either.

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 1:46 pm:

    This is a Federal issue and the Feds need to stand up with money and coordination. Allowing Abbot to send busses full of migrants wherever he likes needs to stop. The Biden admin has had plenty of time to come up with a plan to distribute migrants throughout the country along with resources to support them; that includes time to send the parts that need approval to Congress. Abbott’s busses could then be diverted per the plan. Allowing Abbott to do as he wishes is an abdication of federal authority. Our Senators and Representatives in Congress need to pressure the Biden admin and work with other Congresscritters to introduce and pass bills addressing the situation.

  21. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 1:54 pm:

    I’m not just calling out the Dems for leadership on this. The right is full of folks who like to claim this is a “Christian Nation” founded on the teachings laid out by Jesus. If that is the case, they should be taking the lead; from “I was a stranger, and ye took me in” to the parable of the Good Samaritan, it’s very clear what the expectations are.

    I will stop ranting now. Apologies to all.

  22. - Hannibal Lecter - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 1:57 pm:

    === And @Sue maybe you should tell your party that sticking these poor people on a bus and shipping them around the country isn’t the solution either. ===

    They aren’t looking for a solution for the Migrants. They are looking for a solution for themselves and it appears their plans are going, well, just as planned. Understanding that is important to understanding the crisis.

  23. - Papa2008 - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 3:13 pm:

    Migration will not end until the origin country and destination country have an equilibrium in economic and social potential. We can either wait for ours to descend or implement policies that cause theirs to grow. Easy answer. Now get to it.

  24. - pc - Monday, Oct 2, 23 @ 3:54 pm:

    what Pot calling Kettle said. One state in this so-called union is intentionally trying to strain the resources of a city in another state to its breaking point. That is the very definition of a federal issue requiring a federal response. If the fed government refuses, Illinois should consider whether there are avenues of self-help to secure the funds necessary to help these people.

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