'We're tired, Ms. Lightfoot': Chicago community outraged at decision to use former school to house migrants

A group of residents in one Chicago neighborhood is demanding answers from the city after they say a decision to shelter migrants at a former elementary school was made without their knowledge.

Asylum seekers from the Texas border could be moving into the former Wadsworth Elementary School located at 64th Street and University Avenue in Woodlawn

"I’m here because I am concerned, I live here, and we need to know what the plan is," said Carlas Prince Gilbert, a Woodlawn business owner.

Residents say they were blindsided by the move and feel there are other community issues that should be addressed first.

"There is a lack of resources in our community, we don’t need anyone else to come in and suck those up. We're tired, Ms. Lightfoot," said Erica, a community member.


Without providing details on living arrangements or a timeline, a city official confirms the building has recently undergone repairs to accommodate the new arrivals.

On Thursday, a group of residents and community leaders met at the building to protest this decision. 

"The community feels disrespected, they feel as though they were not included, and they need answers today," said community leader Jennifer Maddox. 

Community members are asking how long migrants will be housed there, if there will be security, and if background checks will be conducted.

"What is the plan to integrate them into the community," said Gilbert.

Residents are also questioning why the city isn't addressing neighborhood crime, unemployment and homelessness first.

"We’re struggling right now to make Woodlawn an affordable, mixed-income community. While I would love to help immigrants and everybody else, I’d like to help my own first," said Jeane Clark, who lives in Woodlawn.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor who represents the 20th Ward said she was not consulted on the plan nor was she able to talk with residents about their feelings before a decision was announced. 

The move-in was initially scheduled for as early as Friday but Taylor's office confirmed the opening of the location has been postponed indefinitely.

FOX 32 Chicago sent multiple requests to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Thursday for a response to residents’ concerns. 

The city provided the following response Friday:

"As a welcoming city, we are committed to receiving asylum seekers with dignity and respect. We have worked with County, State, local leaders, and community-based partners to explore all options for temporary shelters to respond to the urgent needs of our new arrivals. The City is continuing to engage with the Woodlawn community and is committed to carefully balancing the needs of both our residents and new arrivals. At this time, the City has not determined a firm date on when this space will open for shelter."

This comes on the same day President Joe Biden announced the U.S. is now turning away individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who cross the border illegally.

Instead, the U.S. will accept 30,000 people per month from those four nations for two years.

"Let me reiterate. You need a lawful sponsor in the United States of America, number one. And you need to undergo a rigorous background check, number two," said President Biden.

The president is set to visit the US-Mexico border in El Paso this weekend for the first time since taking office.