CHICAGO — The City Council Committee of Immigrant and Refugee Rights held a meeting Friday to discuss the ongoing Migrant crisis.
Emotions were running high with questions over how the city is balancing the urgent needs of newly arriving migrants and those of long-term residents.
“We are being made to choose one set of people over the other and it’s wrong,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward).
City officials said 36 buses carrying migrants have arrived in the past week and the number one priority is getting people out of police stations.
The committee also heard from mutual aid groups and volunteers who are spending their own time and money to respond to the crisis at police stations.
Sara Izquierdo from the Mobile Migrant Health Team said they are seeing children who have been cut by barbed wire, poorly stitched up in Texas and shipped to Chicago police stations with inflected cuts.
“From the $20,000 we have spent so far, not a single dollar has come from the city. It has come from other Chicagoans, good people who believe in helping the unhoused. There is a lack of funding. But we are also tired. I can’t sleep at night because my patient’s faces are still in my head because I’m in a bed in my house and they are on a police station floor,” Izquierdo said.
Amid Friday’s meeting, city officials reiterated that their top priority was getting migrants out of police stations.
“Our goal continues to be that we are a welcoming city and a welcoming state,” said Beatriz Ponce de Léon, Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee Rights.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s First Deputy Chief of Staff said immediate funding is needed from the federal government. As such, the mayor’s administration is pushing forward with plans to set up one or two base camps to house people after entering a controversial $29 million contract with GardaWorld.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has expressed some concern about the move, as some councilmembers maintain that the state has not done enough to address the migrant crisis.
“I know why our mayor hasn’t gone out there and called the governor out but I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I think the truth needs to be said – that the state of Illinois is currently failing the people and city of Chicago,” said Ald. Carols Ramirez (35th Ward).
Fifteen more buses are expected to arrive in Chicago this weekend.