CHICAGO — As overnight temperatures fell into the 30s for the first time this fall, the migrant crisis is only worsening and there are no signs they’ll be moving out of police stations, outdoor encampments, or O’Hare Airport any time soon.
Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration signed a $29M contract with Garda World on Sept.12 to open a winterized tent facility that could house, feed and provide other services for migrants.
However, city records reviewed by WGN Investigates show no payments have been made to the company and the mayor’s team has yet to announce where it would be located, let alone when it could open.
Johnson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the seemingly stalled project.
Meanwhile, the number of migrants staying at Chicago police stations has nearly doubled since the end of August. There are currently 2,894 migrants staying at CPD districts, up 75% from just two weeks ago. The city reports 632 migrants are staying at O’Hare Airport, up 66% from two weeks ago.
Nearly 11,000 migrants are currently sleeping in more traditional shelters.
Increasingly, residents and alderpersons are pushing back on efforts to turn park district field houses and other community spaces into migrant shelters.
Some residents threatened to chain themselves to doors if migrants arrived at Amundsen Park field house on the city’s Far West Side. After a week of raucous community meetings, the mayor’s office abruptly paused the plan Monday night with a simple one-sentence statement that declared: “The move to Amundsen Park is currently on hold.”
The mayor has been especially attuned to criticism that migrants could be housed in communities that have long suffered from disinvestment.
“The weight and the burden of this sacrifice has been on Chicagoans,” Johnson said on Oct. 6. “And I am hearing loud and clear from our Black residents, in particular, that they have high expectations, as they should.”
Chicago has received more than 18,000 new arrivals since February of last year when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) first announced plans to send migrants overwhelming his state to so-called “sanctuary cities” such as New York and Chicago.