Migrant crisis

Father of 5 from Venezuela expresses gratitude as family moves into housing with help from Chicago nonprofit

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New beginnings for a family of seven from Venezuela, who is now looking to start their new life in Chicago. The family arrived from the southern border last year, was separated, and now reunited in Chicago.

Deybi Espinosa Jimenez told NBC Chicago in Spanish he is grateful to everyone at New Life Centers in Little Village for helping him and his family.

“He said he’s very grateful to be here, extremely to the state for the help,” said Frederick Fret, who is the assistant director of the new neighbors’ program. “He’s also grateful for the all the good people that have been surrounding him and his family just trying to help.”

Jimenez’ family is one of more than 950 moved from police stations and city shelters into housing, according to New Life Centers. Jimenez said he, his wife, and five children from 7 to 15 years old fled their home country for better opportunities here, and said there were times he didn’t think they were going to make it.

“He said there was a cliff and they had to throw the kids in from the higher edge into the bottom into the water,” said Fret. “He said the biggest suffering was just watching his kids suffer.”

But now with a roof over his head in this two-bedroom apartment in Little Village, Jimenez is thankful for his new home and eager to get to work.  

“He said his dream, the big hope, just to become a resident, get his working paper, get a license, and just to see his kids go to school and become something great” said Fret.

To date, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has been able to connect more than 5,500 migrants into long term housing. As more migrants flow into police stations and O’Hare International Airport, the city said 3,800 migrants are still waiting to be placed as of Wednesday morning.

“He doesn’t like seeing his fellow people sleeping on the floors, but except here, you have the opportunity here to work hard and do the right thing,” he explained to Fret. “We should be focused on when we get here to work, take care of our family, and do what’s good and to always think positive.”

As Jimenez waits for the federal government to expedite work permits, he’s counting his blessings and hoping for peace among his new neighbors.

“Always believe in God, always keep your faith in God,” said Fret. “He said he believes that a lot of the tension comes from social media because they focus on the negative, they don’t see the overwhelming positive part of the migrant population that just want to come here and do good.”

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