CHICAGO — More than a dozen buses with South American migrants are scheduled to arrive in Chicago this weekend. The new arrivals come as the city struggles to figure out how to support the migrants and many others in need across the city.
As new asylum seekers arrive in the city, committed volunteers are doing the best they can to make the families feel welcome in spite of the uncomfortable circumstances.
On Saturday, Sonia Garcia, who serves with Chicago Father’s for Change, brought her food truck out to feed new arrivals living at the 15th Police District in Austin.
“We want them to have a better life and we need the help from the city to help them, but we just wanted to feed them, we wanted to give them good food,” Garcia said.
Annie Gomberg, who volunteers as the District 15 Lead Organizer assisting asylum seekers, says at least 15,000 people have arrived in Chicago from Venezuela and other South American countries since last August and 15 new buses are expected to arrive this weekend.
“We were told by OEMC this morning that we would be expecting ten buses today and that every district would receive at least ten more people,” Gomberg said.
According to Gomberg, space inside District 15 has run out, so those arriving on Saturday will likely be sleeping outside.
“I’ll be bringing some tents over later that I’m picking up today, just to try to make that as hospitable as we can, even though it’s a pretty inhospitable environment,” Gomberg said.
Plans remain in place to move forward with a controversial $29 million contract to create one or two base camps to shelter people.
Baltazar Enriquez, president of the Little Village Community Council says he hopes the mayor will reconsider the tent cities and find buildings for the asylum seekers to live in.
“We’re talking about $29 million where, you know, you could build a community with $29 million, you know it’s a lot of money,” Enriquez said.
Volunteers and community organizers say several families with additional space have opened up their homes to asylum seekers and they encourage more people to consider doing the same.