Chicago, IL

Illinois Governor Steps In, Scraps Chicago Mayor's Controversial Migrant Camp Plan Due to Toxic Land

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Gov. Pritzker cancels Mayor Johnson's plans to build winter tent camp for Chicago migrants, due to risk of contaminants at former industrial site
Illinois Governor Pritzker steps in and cancels Chicago Mayor Johnson's plan to construct migrant tent campPhoto byScreen Capture/Youtube Video [Creator]

Amidst the surge of over 24,000 migrants arriving in Chicago since August, Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration ditches plans for a temporary winter camp, citing contamination risks at the proposed site. Despite efforts, hundreds of asylum-seekers await shelter, some camping on sidewalks outside police stations.

The state allocated $65 million for a tent camp in Brighton Park and permanent structures in Little Village. Construction started despite protests over the alleged pollution of the 9-acre site, a former industrial area with a history of tanks, a zinc smelter, and more.

An environmental report flagged contaminants, leading to soil removal. Assurances from Mayor Brandon Johnson's office were given, stating the site was safe based on Terracon's findings. However, the Illinois EPA demanded more testing, prompting the cancellation.

Alderwoman Julia Ramirez opposed the project for safety reasons. Construction halted as the environmental agency assessed excess levels of mercury and other contaminants. Despite safeguards, the project was scrapped Tuesday, leaving the mission to find shelter for immigrants outdoors still active.

The city, vowing swift action, criticized the state for lack of guidance. Meanwhile, mayors press for federal aid as migrants strain resources in Democrat-led cities, arriving on buses funded by Republican governors.

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