Illinois hotel industry, downtown residents speak out on migrant crisis

There is a push for federal legislation aimed at assisting migrants in securing employment.

Currently, asylum seekers who arrive in the United States and navigate the legal process must wait for a period of six to nine months before being eligible to work.

However, a bill currently under consideration in Congress seeks to reduce this waiting period to just one month.

Recently, the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association (IHLA) returned from Washington, D.C., where they lobbied for the bill to be enacted into law.


The IHLA has a partnership with the state to offer temporary lodging in hotels for thousands of migrants until they can get on their feet.

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.

One of the last known hotels that migrants called home temporarily is Inn of Chicago.

Migrants are still filling up the rooms, and neighbors aren’t giving them a warm welcome — saying they’ve had to call the police.

"The police can't do anything about it. When police come, they can't arrest them because they have no documentation," one resident said, who declined to be on camera.

Two men that live in the Streeterville neighborhood complained of issues the asylum seekers are bringing to the area.

"They are hanging out on the sidewalk, hanging out in the alleys people have been solicited including myself for prostitution," another resident said.

FOX 32 News has reached out to Unite Here Local 1 and is awaiting their response.