CHICAGO — Chicago’s City Hall is facing criticism for its efforts in handling migrant refugees as migrant families are forced to sleep on the floor at many police districts.
Chicago is historically known as a city of immigrants and a sanctuary city welcoming newcomers, but the reception for mostly Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants has been a mixed bag with not enough shelter capacity or available migrant housing.
“We are sleeping recently on the floor because we don’t have anywhere to go,” Kae Bay, a Venezuelan migrant said.
Bay is with his wife, two kids and his cousin’s family.
The children are struggling to deal with this unusual confinement.
“They’re practically locked in and they want to play, go outside. But we can’t because we are awaiting a response,” Bay said.
As instructed, he called the city’s 311 helpline and is waiting to be transferred to a shelter by city drivers and private relief organizations that are working together to deal with the surge of migrants.
“We estimate about 12 to 15,000 new people have come to Chicago alone since last September,” Dr. Evelyn Figueroa with the Figueroa Wu Family Foundation said.
She has worked with migrants through her non-profit and said despite everybody’s efforts, it’s a capacity issue.
And she said there hasn’t been enough time to build a shelter capacity.
“Tripling, quadrupling capacity was just not feasible so they’re stuck in these really awful places,” Figueroa said. “They are warming centers but the are certainly not homes.”
In a written statement, the City of Chicago said, “This humanitarian crisis remains fluid. We have been working tirelessly to connect new arrivals with much-needed assistance and support.”