The metropolis’s response to the arrival of two busloads of migrants despatched right here from Texas proved Chicago’s mettle as a safe haven for folks searching for a greater life, Mayor Lori Lightfoot mentioned Thursday.
“We are Chicago, a welcoming city, a city where we live our values every single day — a city where immigrants and refugees have been a part of the fabric of the city from our earliest days,” Lightfoot mentioned. “Last night, we showed our mettle — The best of who we are.”
The metropolis has been getting ready for this present day, Lightfoot mentioned, and labored to greet them with dignity, respect, and resources, she mentioned.
She additionally blasted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for what she mentioned have been “racist” and xenophobic acts. Abbott has begun busing migrants who arrive on the Texas-Mexico border to northern cities, blaming President Joe Biden’s “open” immigration insurance policies for “overwhelming border communities in Texas.” This is the primary group of such migrants to be despatched to Chicago.
“Gov. Abbott has confirmed what unfortunately many of us already had known that he is a man without any morals, humanity or shame,” Lightfoot mentioned. “Instead of treating these individuals with respect that they deserve or the due process that our require. Gov. Abbott chose instead to inhumanely load them onto buses, send them on a more than 12 hour journey across a country that they don’t known and drop them off without any regard for what the next steps are. These are human beings. Moms and dads, young children, elders who deserve our respect and dignity. They’re not cargo. They are not chattel. They’re human beings.”
Asked about any coordination with Texas officers, Lightfoot mentioned it will’ve been good if the Abbott administration had communicated particulars concerning the folks they have been sending, reminiscent of what number of there would be and whether or not anybody wanted medical care. That didn’t occur, the mayor mentioned.
“That’s what a leader would do. That is not who Gov. Abbott is,” Lightfoot mentioned. “That’s not what he’s done. What you’re seeing instead is what we do in Chicago, in Illinois.”
She additionally criticized the bus corporations, saying they’re “complicit in being a part of this indignity.”
Caleb Senn, normal secretary of the Salvation Army, additionally pledged to assist the migrants.
“Our mission is to ensure that all people, whether from Chicago or Venezuela, know no hunger and have a safe place to sleep,” he mentioned.
Dozens of migrants who’d traveled to Texas from south of the U.S. border arrived in Chicago Wednesday night.
Abbott introduced the arrival of the “first group” of migrants bused to Chicago in a separate assertion Wednesday evening.
In his assertion, Abbott mentioned that as well as to Washington, D.C., and New York City, Chicago will now be a drop-off location.
The metropolis began getting ready “several weeks back” when migrants from Texas started arriving in New York and Washington, Lightfoot mentioned.
Asked whether or not the migrants will get everlasting housing, Lightfoot mentioned it’ll rely upon every particular person’s plans — some people need to transfer to different cities the place they have already got household or contacts, she famous.
Lightfoot had visited the Salvation Army shelter late Wednesday the place some migrants have been staying and confirmed that 75 migrants arrived to Chicago from Texas on two buses.
Many of the migrants had fled the South American nation of Venezuela. About 15 of the migrants waited alongside Canal Street Wednesday night for one other bus after arriving from Texas following a visit of greater than 12 hour. Most have been males; the group additionally included a younger couple who have been touring with a toddler and had one other child on the way in which. The little one was consuming a tangerine from a bag offered by a Chicago police officer.
Lightfoot famous that a number of nonprofits, together with the Salvation Army and Resurrection Project, had offered a “tremendous outpouring” of help.
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Late Wednesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker mentioned in a press release that “Illinois welcomes refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.” He mentioned the state is working with federal and metropolis officers “to ensure that these individuals are treated with respect and safety as they look to connect with their family and friends.”
He mentioned his great-grandfather emigrated from Ukraine in 1881 and that “immigrants just like my family seeking freedom and opportunity built this country. Illinois is and has always been a welcoming state.”
The migrants have been to obtain well being screenings and be provided emergency housing, authorized resettlement help and COVID-19 vaccines, a Pritzker consultant mentioned.
Reflecting on the migrants she met Wednesday evening, Lightfoot mentioned she was heartened by their good spirits and “incredible determination and resilience.”
Lightfoot mentioned she advised kids who have been current, via an interpreter, “we will be there for them.”
The mayor mentioned she expects to see extra migrants arrive however serving to deal with them is “something we must do.”
“This is a humanitarian crisis manufactured by a cheap politician who is focused on his own political fortunes and pandering to, frankly, the lowest common denominator in his party at the expense of these people’s … lives,” Lightfoot mentioned. “So we have to be the opposite of that, and do whatever is necessary to stand up in this moment and we will do that.”