CHICAGO — For the last 15 days, Manuel Moreno and his wife, Laurimar, have been living out of the Chicago Police Department’s 22nd District police station in Morgan Park.

While they wait for placement in a local shelter, Moreno and a group of men have been helping in the nearby Edna White Community Garden.

“Picking up trash, a spring clean-up getting rid of dead plants, putting down mulch,” said Tim Noonan, who works as a mutual aide in the 19th Ward. “It gives them something to do because they’re sitting around all day staring at the walls.”

Moreno said their journey here wasn’t easy.

The two said they left Venezuela eight months ago, traveling on foot through the jungles of Panama and Guatemala. Along the way, Moreno said they went without food for days and dead bodies were found everywhere. At one point, he said they had to drink water from a river filled with corpses.

Moreno said he saved $3,000 from working as a chef before they started the journey north, all of which was nearly gone by the time they made it to Mexico — a price to pay, currying favor at military checkpoints.

Once they reached a designated border crossing in Texas, they filled out an application seeking asylum in the United States and went to what they described as a refugee camp, where Moreno was asked if they wanted to fly to Chicago.

Moreno said he was told he could get a work permit and would be treated well once they arrived. Even though he didn’t expect to be sleeping on the floor of a police station for two weeks, Moreno said he is still grateful given what they have went through to get here.

Moreno said through a translator that he “doesn’t want to be a burden to the government of the US or Chicago. We want to be productive people for the country. We are here to help our families.”

Community organizers said they have a meal train set up for 2-3 weeks at the 22nd District, and last night, they had leftovers delivered to CPD’s 3rd District police station in Grand Crossing, where there is also a group of asylum seekers waiting placement in local shelters.

“I do believe Chicagoans understand what it means to be a sanctuary city,” said Bill Figel, one of the volunteers at the 22nd District police station. “I think there are other people who will step up.”