Chicago Migrants

Contentious meeting held over Brighton Park migrant shelter 1 week after heated protest

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One week after a protest at a community meeting discussing a possible migrant shelter in Brighton Park in which an alderperson and her aide were swarmed, community members met near the proposed site to continue to share their opposition.

City officials plan to construct a migrant "basecamp" at a private lot at the intersection of West 38th Street and South California Avenue that would house as many as 1,500 people.

Emotions continued to run high at the meeting, held three blocks south of the lot city officials plan to use at Kelly High School where residents expressed concerns over the safety of the "winterized tents" that would be used in the upcoming cold weather.

In addition to residents voicing their displeasure with the plan inside Kelly High School, dozens more waited outside, pounding on the door until they were gradually allowed inside.

12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez, who was swarmed by angry protesters last week in an altercation that sent one of her aides to the hospital, aimed to quell some of the concerns residents hold.

Ramirez specifically differentiated the proposed site from one at Amundsen Park in Austin, a city-owned park that has been the site of a proposed migrant shelter.

City officials added that the space would be secured by Chicago police, though many residents do not see the arrangements being made for migrants as humane.

"A safe place to live and quality education benefits us all. I am asking for appropriate housing and counselors," one resident said.

While many residents have spoken out in opposition to the proposed migrant shelter, others have taken on a welcoming tone to their new neighbors.

"What is happening here isn't an either/or, we can welcome our new neighbors and have a thriving, healthy community," another resident said.

An infrastructure and environmental assessment for the site is currently underway, with a final decision likely coming afterwards.

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