CHICAGO — In a city feeling the weight of an influx of migrants coming into the United States, a Chicago non-profit was ready to step in and help.
Until — in their words — they couldn’t.
United Legion One Nation (ULON), came to the Chicago Police Department’s 3rd District Tuesday to offer their resource center as temporary housing for migrants, who are currently camping out in the breezeway entrance to the police station.
“It looks like a third-world country,” said Pete Keller, founder of ULON.
Keller told WGN, at ULON’s resource center just two blocks from CPD’s 3rd District police station, “they have heat. They have two TVs. They have a spacious area, a jumpy house for kids. Coloring books, everything you would need to keep and sustain a family.”
And as Keller and other volunteers prepared to help move migrants from the police station, they were stopped.
“From what we were told, the higher-ups told them that they may have some type of situation with [the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services],” Keller said. “And it may be best if they stay because they would lose their place in a list.”
When the news came down, volunteers with ULON expressed their frustration.
“We’re ready to take these people and being blocked because there’s some kind of a protocol because this is considered a safe haven housing 15 to 20 people inside of a the entrance to the police station,” said Brian Villanueva, from the ULON resource center. “I don’t get it. We’re here, we’re ready to take them now.”
WGN reached out to CPD, the mayor’s office, DCFS, the Department of Homeland Security, and Illinois Department of Public Health for comment on the situation.
The mayor’s office issued the following statement in response:
“Migrants are not obligated to remain at the police station, City shelters, or respite sites. However, migrants who leave risk pick-up delays or cancellation of their request for transportation to a shelter, especially if there is no way to contact them. We commend the Chicago Police officers for playing an integral part in our mission to coordinate safe passage for all new arrivals.”City of Chicago – Office of the Mayor
On Thursday at 6 p.m. this week, the Mayor’s Office will hold a public meeting to answer questions about reopening South Shore High School to help process migrants coming into Chicago.