Numerous undocumented immigrants who were transported by bus or plane to Chicago have been residing in the police stations of the city, resting in public areas, and enduring extended waits, accompanied by children, for several days. As a result, the situation has become hazardous, and the city is struggling to find suitable accommodations for them, which has resulted in concerns regarding health and human welfare among not only the police but also community activists.
The Fraternal Order of Police has submitted a formal complaint regarding the situation and contended that police assets should not be utilized to house undocumented immigrants. “This city said, ‘We’re a welcoming city, we’ll take you,’ but has no plans to do that. This is not a knock on them, but these people are now living in the lobbies of police stations, which is ridiculous,” stated John Catanzara Jr., the President of the Chicago FOP, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
According to the news article published on Thursday, more than 12 individuals were observed by the staff sitting and waiting on a windowsill in the lobby of the CPD’s South Loop 1st District station, visible from the street.
Meanwhile, at the 16th District police station in Chicago, Jessica Chirino and her family, who traveled from Venezuela on foot and buses for months to reach the United States, have waited for days to be informed about available shelters.
This is the 24th district Chicago Police station lobby located near Clark and Devon.— 16th & 17th District Chicago Police Scanner (@CPD1617Scanner) May 4, 2023
This is inhumane.
This is a lack of planning.
This is a result of failure.
It's easy to declare sanctuary status but much harder to actually be a sanctuary. pic.twitter.com/xzhGOM4K6q
In September, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, who is a Republican, started transporting busloads of undocumented immigrants to Chicago in response to the border crisis. Lori Lightfoot, the outgoing mayor of Chicago, criticized the governor’s approach to handling illegal immigration and pledged that the city would provide assistance to the immigrants.
Since then, over 6,000 undocumented immigrants have arrived in Chicago. Some have been housed by the Salvation Army, local churches, and even private citizens, while others have had to resort to sleeping in buses and homeless shelters. Reports have also surfaced about some being taken to motels in suburban areas.
Last year, Lightfoot requested $54 million from the state to finance emergency services for undocumented immigrants seeking asylum. The state approved only $20 million.
The health of the immigrants who arrive in Chicago has also become a major worry. According to the Chicago Tribune, one individual who was being housed at the Logan Square 14th District station was discovered to have chickenpox, was hospitalized, discharged on the same day, and then returned to the station. When his condition deteriorated the next day, he was readmitted to the hospital, but once again returned to the station.
Chirino, who left her country because of the threat of famine and crime, was also experiencing ill health. She had a sore throat and fever but had to sleep on the hard tile floor. Her 5-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who had been wearing the same red pajamas for a week, said to her mother, “I’m hungry.”
Despite the deteriorating conditions in Chicago, there may be some hope on the horizon. The city has planned a joint hearing on Friday to examine the expenses associated with the influx of people seeking refuge in Chicago, focusing on the budget and the rights of immigrants and refugees.