Lori Lightfoot

As More Asylum-Seekers Arrive From Texas, Chicago Pledges Support

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Less than a week after Texas bussed a group of asylum-seekers to Chicago in a program that has sparked much controversy, an additional 50 arrived in the city Sunday.

The asylum-seekers were dropped off around 4:15 p.m. at Chicago's Union Station, which is one of the destinations Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's has designated as "sanctuary cities." The others include Washington, D.C. and New York.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she found out that the asylum-seekers were on their way yesterday afternoon. Now, officials are working to find shelter and other services for the individuals.

"It's part of my agenda to be a welcoming city, 1,000%," Lightfoot said in a press conference Sunday. "... I have been very unequivocal in my time as mayor to make sure that we're doing everything that we can to provide a safe, welcoming space here in the city of Chicago. This is a time for us to live our values."

The mayor's sentiments were a reiteration of what she said Aug. 31, when nearly 100 asylum-seekers first arrived in the city.

As Lightfoot anticipates that Texas will continue to send more individuals to Chicago, she said the city is committed to providing support and resources with help from the state and federal government.

The city revealed that residents and local organizations can help the individuals, too. A new website detailing ways in which donations and volunteer work has been created to aid the asylum-seekers.

The city will accept donations of the following items:

  • Gift cards 
  • New clothing (including cold weather clothing; underwear is a priority) 
  • Athletic shoes 
  • New hygiene kits items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo) 
  • Feminine hygiene products  
  • Diapers 
  • Reusable bags (duffle bags and suitcases) 
  • Backpacks  
  • Baby formula  
  • Blankets 
  • Books for kids (Spanish) 
  • Strollers

More information will be available soon, including drop-off locations.

Earlier this year, Abbott’s administration began to hire charter buses to transport asylum-seekers to Washington, D.C. New York was added to that equation earlier this month, and Chicago has now been identified as a location for drop-offs to take place due to its status as a “sanctuary city,” according to Abbott’s office.

Under Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance,” officials will not ask about immigration status, nor will it disclose that information to federal authorities. Services will not be denied based on immigration status, according to a document published by the city.

Washington, D.C. and New York have enacted similar policies.  

Lightfoot blasted Abbott's administration for lacking "shame or humanity" because of the program.

"As a city, we are doing everything we can to ensure these immigrants and their families can receive shelter, food, and most importantly protection," her office said. "This is not new; Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year to our city and provides much-needed assistance. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is without any shame or humanity. But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals."

The operation stemmed from Abbott’s criticism of the Biden Administration’s attempts to lift a Title 42 order that had allowed the U.S. to deny asylum-seekers entry into the country during the COVID pandemic.

According to CNN, the program has cost Texas approximately $12.7 million. Abbott’s office says that the asylum-seekers are only transported after giving written permission, but the network says it is “unclear” what options are presented to those individuals.

Estimates vary on how many individuals have been transported through the program, with most putting the number between 8,000 and 9.000.

New York’s Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro blasted the program, saying that it is stoking “anti-Latino hatred” in Texas and the rest of the country.

“The treatment they are receiving in Texas is to be condemned,” he told Yahoo! News. “(He is) using human beings to create anti-immigrant and anti-Latino hatred.”

Lightfoot’s office says that city agencies are working to put together temporary “shelter and support solutions,” and said that they are eager to help “families who are seeking a better future away from harm and violence in their home countries.”

The Biden Administration has not commented directly on the program, but officials in both Washington and New York have called on the federal government to provide assistance and to help coordinate efforts to help those being bused from Texas.

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