chicago news

Chicagoans, aldermen question city's response to migrant crisis

NBC Universal, Inc.

With even more buses of migrants expected to arrive in Chicago this weekend, both aldermen and Chicagoans on Friday expressed frustration over the way the city is handling the influx of migrants.

A small group of protesters gathered at Daley Plaza, demanding answers from Mayor Brandon Johnson regarding the city's $29 million deal with the security company GardaWorld to build winterized base camps for migrants.

"I don't think winterized tent city is going to solve anything," said participant Nino Brown.

"I would like to see some transparency," another protester stated.

Non-profit organizations, such as the Chicago Refugee Coalition, have been providing critical support for migrants who have been brought to the city. Alisa Bhachu, the coalition's executive director, said she doesn't think the base camps are a good idea.

"I would respectfully challenge the notion establishing multiple tent camps across the city as a durable solution to this crisis," she stated.

Earlier in the day, Chicagoans sounded off at a committee hearing regarding the migrant crisis at City Hall.

"Where is all this passion for the homeless veterans?" one resident asked.

"I'm deeply concerned about the city’s plans for migrant families," another commented.

During the hearing, officials revealed that the city has spent anywhere between $319 million and $363 million on the migrant crisis. According to city officials, the base camps, which would be constructed by Garda World, would be set up at either one or two locations.

"They are not the only solution, we are still doubling down on opening up brick-and-mortar spaces," said Beatriz Ponce De Leon, Chicago's Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee Rights.

The city expects 10 additional buses to arrive on Saturday, adding to the 9,000 currently staying at shelters and 2,200 others sleeping at police stations, as well as Midway and O'Hare airports.

"I'm very torn by this crisis, because I think this crisis is eating away at the good will of the people of the city of Chicago," Ald. Pat Dowell, of the city's 3rd Ward, said. "I think the more buses we see, the more anxious we get."

With resources stretched thin and the need for even more funding, some aldermen say the line needs to be drawn.

"We need to say we can’t take no more, why won’t nobody say that out of their mouth, out of this administration," 20th Ward Ald. Jeanette Taylor said. "We can’t keep taking buses."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that a total of $41.5 million in local grants would be given to local governments welcoming asylum seekers. Of the total amount, which was appropriated from the state's General Revenue Fund, $30.25 million will be distributed to the city of Chicago.

Contact Us