Lori Lightfoot

How to Help the Busloads of Migrants Arriving in Chicago From Texas

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With busloads of asylum-seekers being transported from Texas to Chicago as part of a controversial new program, many are in need of supplies and donations as they begin the next part of their journeys.

Chicago has set up a new website seeking donations as yet another bus arrived in the city Sunday evening.

"As a welcoming city, we know Chicagoans are ready to show their generosity and are looking for ways to support these individuals," the city's website reads.

While volunteers take time to process to due to safety concerns, the city said those who wish to donate their time can register to help participating shelters here.

Otherwise, supply donations are being collected and the city said it will release a list of drop-off locations "soon."

For those looking to donate, the city listed the following items among those most-needed:

  • 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

The latest group of asylum-seekers were dropped off around 4:15 p.m. Sunday at Chicago's Union Station. The city is one of several "sanctuary cities" identified by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to accept buses of migrants. The others include Washington, D.C. and New York.

"It's part of my agenda to be a welcoming city, 1,000%," Chicago Mayor Lori 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.

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.”

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.”

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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