CHICAGO — As one of the destinations in the migrant bussing crisis, Chicago has become a focal point in the national discussion over immigration, the border and the responsibilities of sanctuary cities.
On Michigan Avenue’s “Plaza of the America’s” renowned Mexican artist Jorge Marín’s masterpiece, the “Wings of Mexico,” a temporary art installation, is a monument to the journey of the immigrant.
“The Wings of Mexico brought me here before it left town,” Dyjayanthi Subramanian, an Indian immigrant who now lives in Michigan, said. “Wings are all about taking flight.”
Since the sculpture was unveiled in May, people have flocked to the bronze sculpture to take photos with the wings.
“It reminds me that my parents took a long journey to get here,” George Ma, whose parents came to the United States from China, said.
Lithuanian immigrant Egle Ivanauskas said she sees hope in the symbolism of the wings.
“It means that anything could happen to anybody, you just need to dream high and fly high,” she said.
The bronze wings sculpture has traveled to 25 cities across the world and it was brought to Chicago to celebrate the city’s status as a sanctuary for migrants and refugees.
“When you look at a map of the world, the Wings have nearly touched every corner. They have literally embraced people from all walks of life from all countries and backgrounds and all nationalities,” said John Gagliardo, the executive vice president for development and construction at GNP Realty Partners, which collaborated with the National Association of Realtors to bring the sculpture to the city, “They celebrate the hope of human potential.”
“It’s something about the wings that represent how people move from one place to the other looking always for the dream that they have,” said Valente Espinoza, a Mexico immigrant.
Chicago was thrust into the national furor over immigration when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, sent busloads of people to the city.
He issued a statement saying, “Chicago will now be a drop-off location” along with New York and Washington, DC.
“We will keep those busses going,” Abbott said.
The controversial political tactic is meant to shift the burdens faced by border states into northern ‘sanctuary cities.’
So far more than 500 undocumented migrants have been bussed to Chicago, and the suburbs. Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker activated the national guard to assist in providing shelter, food and medical care.
“Let me be clear, while other states may be treating these vulnerable families as pawns, here in Illinois, we are treating them as people,” Pritzker said.
Many who cross the border illegally are turned away, but Venezuelans seeking asylum from their country’s desperate economic crisis and dangerous social instability are allowed in the U.S.
“That’s a big thing what America stands for,” Subramanian said. “It’s the home for immigrants from all over the world.”
The Wings of Mexico are on display at the Plaza of the Americas on Michigan Avenue just north of the Wrigley building until October 1.