Chicago residents speak out against city helping migrants over them
CHICAGO - Cities across the United States are bracing for an influx of migrants as Title 42 is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. EST Thursday.
From coast to coast, many of those cities are finding that they don't have the resources to handle the demand — including Chicago, where the migrant crisis has resulted in both support and pushback.
When buses are sent to Chicago from Texas, their final destination is Union Station. City officials confirm to FOX 32 Chicago that only one migrant bus has been sent to the city from the Texas border since January – that bus arrived Tuesday – but they are anticipating more in the coming weeks.
This comes as officials say they have run out of room to house migrant families, with many still sleeping on the floors of local police stations.
Now, South Side residents are pushing back against the city's plan to house several hundred migrants at the vacant South Shore High School located at 76th Street and Constance Avenue.
"Why would any leader put our Black communities already riddled with crime, at further risk by placing unvetted, non-taxpayers steps away from our seniors, our children," said J. Darnell Jones, who lives in South Shore.
If the city's plan goes through, the school building would become a site where migrants could temporarily sleep, eat, and shower.
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"They will be fully taken care of, yet here in our community, we aren’t taken care of," said Linda Cohran, who lives in South Shore.
Many residents aren't happy about the plan, and made that clear during a community meeting with city officials last week.
Residents gathered once again Thursday afternoon at the school to protest the move.
"Our specific frustration lies in the continuous and blatant disregard for the safety and overall quality of life for Black residents, as many of these migrants have been dumped in our neighborhoods without a plan in place to monitor and house them long-term," said Natasha Dunn, South Shore community advocate.
The group has even filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to halt the plan.
A spokeswoman with the city's legal team tells FOX 32 Chicago they cannot comment on pending litigation.
"We're looking at the numbers coming out of City Hall and the State of Illinois, upwards of $150 million dollars roughly for six months. We believe that $150 million would have been in some way eligible to come to our communities to help our crime problems, help with our economic problems, help with our housing issues. And as we're all aware, Black people are the largest number of homeless in Chicago. So if you're gonna help anyone, help the current Black homeless first," said South Shore resident Brian Mullins.
In the meantime in Pilsen, family physician Dr. Evelyn Figueroa has been providing medical screenings to migrants who are living in a nearby respite site. Before relocating this week, they were sleeping in the lobby of a police station.
"For example at Precinct 12, where we had over 70 people, there was one bathroom for all of them," said Figueroa. "And people just congregating closely, trying to survive but really struggling in an extreme way."
Figueroa is also the founder of the Pilsen Food Pantry and is collecting necessary items for families.
"Inflatable air mattresses, pillows, towels, underwear, toiletry kits, those are the biggest things that we need," said Figueroa.
Figueroa also tells FOX 32 Chicago they are accepting monetary donations, and says they are in need of volunteers. Individuals who would like to help can visit this website.
Other organizations are also collecting donations to help migrant families, including Sinai Chicago and LakeView Lutheran Church.