Chicago, IL

Chicago Move to Transition Migrants Out of Police Stations and Into Local Colleges and Field Houses Controversial

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Communities react to announcement that over 800 migrants will be moved out of Police stations and into colleges and field houses, preventing their use by residents until at least the end of summer
Wright College in Chicago where the city is housing over 400 migrantsPhoto byDaniel X. O'Neil/flickr [CC BY 2.0]

In an effort to address the ongoing migrant crisis and provide better living conditions for asylum seekers, the city of Chicago has initiated a plan to move migrants out of police stations and into transitional housing at local colleges and field houses. The administration of Mayor Brandon Johnson aims to relocate approximately 800 asylum seekers currently housed in police stations to more suitable accommodations.

Daley College and Wright College have been designated as the initial locations for housing the migrants, with plans to announce a third location soon. Over 400 individuals have been moved to Wright College and the city moved another 400 to Daley College last weekend.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, representing the 25th Ward, has been working closely with the mayor's office to develop a comprehensive plan that involves engaging local communities and representatives to ensure their awareness and support. He said there will be a third college shelter location announced in the coming days which will likely house at least 400 more migrants.

The initiative to move migrants out of police stations and into transitional housing is a response to the urgent need for improved living conditions. The current situation has drawn criticism from immigration advocates, who argue that there should have been a plan in place earlier. However, given the Governor of Texas is busing all the migrants that cross into the state to one of the sanctuary sites and Chicago had no control over the situation, there has been no way for authorities to predict how many migrants might ultimately be sent to the city.

Northwest Side Chicago residents were critical over the plan to house hundreds of migrants at Wilbur Wright College until at least August 1st. Similarly, residents on the South Side protested moving hundreds of asylum seekers into Daley College. Among other concerns, residents were upset by the city council making the decision before informing the community.

The city of Chicago has also been housing migrants at park field houses, including Leone Beach fieldhouse in Rogers Park, and Brands Park fieldhouse in the Avondale neighborhood. Residents have protested this solution as well, since fieldhouses are a significant part of summer programming and families with children will have to make other arrangements since they will be unable to access the fieldhouses and all programming has been canceled.

The proposal put forward by a group of Latino alderpersons involves conducting a ward-by-ward search for unused buildings that could be converted into temporary shelters. These shelters would serve as a starting point to provide transitional housing for asylum seekers and other unhoused individuals until they can be placed in permanent, affordable housing. Several potential locations have already been identified, including a vacant building in Brighton Park, along with a former CVS store and the Arturo Velasquez Institute in Little Village.

While the proposed plan requires funding and has yet to be introduced to the City Council, it has garnered support from Mayor Brandon Johnson's administration. The mayor has already toured some of the potential locations, expressing his commitment to addressing the needs of asylum seekers and unhoused individuals in the city.

However, not all residents are satisfied with the chosen locations. Some community members, such as Marjorie Love, an 85-year-old lifelong resident, have expressed concerns about the impact on their neighborhoods and have called for alternative solutions to accommodate the influx of migrants. The city continues to face challenges in finding suitable locations that meet the needs of migrants while addressing the concerns of local communities

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