CHICAGO — Tomorrow marks one year since the first bus of migrants arrived in Chicago from Texas, and the two woman tasked with developing a plan for integrating them into Chicago sat down to talk about their work for the first time.

Guiding the efforts to house them are Deputy Mayor Cristina Pacione-Zayas, and the head of the newly-created City Office of Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee Rights, Beatriz Ponce De Leon.

“While we are not completely saying [it was a] slam dunk, we did really well,” Pacione-Zayas said. “In the last 100 days, we’ve done quite a bit of work to meet the moment.”

Since that fateful day on Aug. 31, 2022, more than 13,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago via bus or plane, with the City setting up at least 15 shelters to manage the crowds, but that hasn’t been enough.

“It is a very fluid situation and the buses that are coming are out of our control,” Pacione-Zayas said. “We are now seeing on a regular basis 30 to 40 people that are arriving at O’Hare.”

Pacione-Zayas and Ponce De Leon estimate it’s costing $30 million a month to house the nearly 7,000 migrants still relying on shelters, and that’s not counting the hundreds sleeping on the floor of police districts across Chicago.

“Essentially our police officers are acting like deputized public housing managers, and that’s certainly not what they signed up for,” Pacione-Zayas said.

According to the latest numbers from the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), as of Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., there are 6,678 migrants in City shelters, with 2,036 awaiting placement. 1,650 migrants are being housed at CPD police stations, with another 386 being housed at O’Hare International Airport.

Since Chicago began receiving migrants, the OEMC said there have been more than 13,500 new arrivals, with 217 buses having arrived since Aug. 31, 2022, 117 buses since Jan. 1, and 102 buses since May 12.

According to Pacione-Zayas and Ponce De Leon, the plan moving forward is to clear out migrants from police districts before the winter months arrive, with several new shelters expected to open up over the next few weeks.

“The landing zone has to change,” Pacione-Zayas said. “We are in the process of trying to identify a different place where you can immediately have emergency shelter.”

Pacione-Zayas said they are also working on building relationships with organizations at the border to get a better sense of how many buses and individuals are headed to Chicago on a given day, something that was not happening before her and Ponce De Leon began working together.

The two have also started identifying other housing agencies to help resettle families on a quicker timetable. Since doing so, Pacione-Zayas said they’ve resettled about 500 families to live on their own in the last three-and-a-half months.

When it comes to government assistance, Pacione-Zayas said they are fighting for more federal funding and advocating for the approval of work permits, which would allow migrants to live on their own, but that fight is something groups in Chicago have embarked on before.

“I think the difference is this is the first time you see all of these various groups saying, ‘we are stronger together,'” Pacione-Zayas said “We are going to continue to put the pressure.”