CHICAGO — Three months after the first migrant buses arrived in Chicago, we are learning more about their new lives in the City of Big Shoulders.
So far – 3,687 people have arrived in Chicago by bus after the Governor of Texas, upset over immigration policies, started sending people to Chicago, New York and Washington D-C. While the attention has been on the bused migrants, local organizations have been accommodating migrants arriving on their own months before the crisis.
One couple allowed our ‘WGN Investigates’ cameras into their temporary home. They arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on their own after immigration officials at the border cleared them to fly. The friend who was supposed to pick them up at O’Hare never showed, forcing them to spend three nights at the airport until a non-profit organization out of Joliet rescued them.
The unnamed migrant said, “we were tired, without clothes. It was terrible but oh well. God never abandons anyone. We met one of the cleaning people at the terminal. She gave me some clothes and food.”
Organizations are working to find permanent solutions for people arriving by bus and individually. Veronica Castro helps run the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and says most families will not be able to get work permits for at least six months. If they can’t work, it will be tough to find permanent shelter.
Castro adds, “we know folks are going to be in this asylum process for years. The plan is to get people in housing within a short period of time. There are folks that are moving, but it’s the exception not the rule.”
City and local immigration advocates are trying to find “friendly landlords” to help place people in permanent homes, but it has been a challenge.
A new website is meant to help connect new arrivals to resources.