Community group at odds with shelter, city over donations for immigrants bused from Texas
CHICAGO - A Pilsen-based community group at odds with city and shelter officials over how to get donations to immigrants bused from Texas says it plans to continue providing items directly to the newly arrived community.
For weeks, the Mural Movement along with other community leaders have stopped by the Salvation Army’s Humboldt Park shelters to greet those arriving from the Texas-chartered buses. But late last week, that effort led to a confrontation between the group and a Salvation Army worker that can be heard on a video posted online using expletives while telling the community group to leave.
The worker in the video has since been reassigned, said Brian Duewel, spokesman for the Salvation Army North and Central Illinois Division. He said the group can continue doing distributions on sidewalks near the shelters, but the Salvation Army can’t let them inside without going through a vetting process because minors live at the shelters.
While a donation can’t go to a specific individual, Duewel said donations can be made for the newly arrived immigrants through the Salvation Army. City officials also created a website, www.chicago.gov/support, to coordinate donations and volunteers.
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"As a welcoming city, we know Chicagoans are ready to show their generosity and support these individuals — and we welcome that," the Salvation Army and city officials said in a statement. "In order to make the most positive impact and protect the well-being of these vulnerable individuals, we appreciate your cooperating in ensuring a coordinated effort."
Since late August, more than 3,500 immigrants have arrived in Chicago via the Texas-chartered buses, according to city officials. Immigrants arriving at the nation’s southern border are being sent by the Republican Texas governor — as a political statement — to Democrat-led sanctuary cities.
Delilah Martinez, the founder of the Mural Movement, said the group has concerns about the type of food the immigrants are getting, how they are treated and if all of their needs are being met.
Martinez said the group wants to show the newly arrived immigrants "love" by bringing them food, shoes and other items.
"We continue to pull up and see what the people need," Martinez said. "We’ve been noticing that they still don’t have shoes or socks on so the people tell us that it’s cold inside. They need blankets, they need clothes, baby clothes, baby shoes and socks for their babies."
The Mural Movement was started in 2020 to create murals on storefronts during the mass protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd. It’s expanded to holiday food drives, school supply drives and pop-up food pantries.
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Martinez said she’s heard from people who’ve had difficulties submitting donations through the city. She said the group will continue taking donations directly to the shelters.
"We’re more in tune with people from underserved communities," she said. "They trust us already, they come directly to us. So we’re very familiar with starting our own thing, doing our own thing."