CHICAGO — Brighton Park residents were fired up Tuesday evening, voicing their displeasure at a public meeting over City plans to set up a temporary migrant camp in the 12th Ward.
According to City officials, a temporary camp that could house as many as 2,000 migrants is on the cards for a site near West 38th Street and South California Avenue to get folks into temporary, warm locations as winter fast approaches.
Although the site is officially located in the 12th Ward, 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez said his residents will be affected too.
“Brighton Park is represented by the 12th and the 15th ward,” Lopez said. “I have no impact on the decision, but [residents] should have the opportunity to publicize their concerns or, in writing, we’ve had over 200 email responses already to this location.”
Dozens took to the mic at the meeting, where most emphasized they are not against migrants in general, but they are against the opportunities being afforded to them.
“They are going to get everything handed to them and that’s not fair,” said one resident Tuesday evening. “There are people who’ve been here, worked their whole lives and cant even get a license.”
Several area residents also asked why 12th Ward Alderwoman Julia Ramirez wasn’t present for the meeting Tuesday evening, to which the alderwoman issued the following statement in response:
“Clearly the Alderman is trying to score political points since it’s practically unheard of for an Alderman to hold a community meeting about something happening in their colleague’s ward.”12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez
Other concerns aired during the meeting revolved around public safety and whether migrants arriving in the City have been properly vetted, while others said Chicago ought to stand up and take responsibility of taking care of the migrants.
“I also ask our leaders, like Ray lopez, to sop supporting things that are anti-immigrant,” said another resident. “We can’t be saying we don’t have money for people when you are voting things down that directly invest in our community.”
While opinions came thick and fast Tuesday evening, the reality is the deal to put the migrant camp in place is seemingly done, and the location — while deemed viable — is less than desirable, according to Lopez.
“This location is wrong. It’s a toxic brown field – dumping ground for the railroad zinc in the dirt and we’re now going to asphalt it and put 2000 people on top?” Lopez said. “There’s a reason why there’s nothing there.”
“In the meantime, we only have 16 warming buses for 22 police stations,” Lopez added. “That’s not enough.”