Plans to open temporary migrant shelter in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood sparked a heated discussion at a meeting on Monday night, the latest escalation in the ongoing migrant crisis.
The proposed shelter, inside a former warehouse at 22nd and Halsted, could welcome asylum-seekers in the coming days.
“The city of Chicago has 17,000 new neighbors. 29,000 Ukrainian refugees. We believe that we are a sanctuary city and as such we are acting with compassion and care but we cannot do it alone,” said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez of the city’s 25th Ward.
The biggest concern for many is the number of migrants coming to Chicago, with up to 25 busloads of migrants arriving daily. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday sent a letter to President Biden, asking for additional assistance to help migrants while Chicagoans are feeling the effects of this humanitarian crisis.
“We have property taxes that have doubled and tripled during the same period of time, so we want to make sure that we prioritize their needs as well,” said Sigcho-Lopez.
At Monday’s community meeting, nearby residents raised a number of objections, while others looked for ways to be a part of the solution.
“I think we all have to come together in big needs,” said Oak Park resident, Phillip Jimenez. “If you think about COVID, one of the best things about COVID is we all stopped being individual institutions, and we all just leaned in, and we tried to find a way to support each other.”
Chicagoan Tamiko Holt said migrants have needs that are present, but haven’t been met.
“..We’re trying to see since we’re going to be repurposing things, they could have been repurposed all of this time,” they added.
So what happens next?
The city of Chicago plans to move families into the warehouse in Pilsen, which can hold up to 400 people, as early as Tuesday. According to city officials, police have a created a plan for safety and security, which includes an 11p.m. curfew.