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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

A Timeline of Migrants in Hyde Park

This timeline spans the beginning of migrant busing to Chicago in April 2022 through the February 2024 drop in shelter population.
Eva McCord and Annabel Shen

April 13, 2022

Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) orders a bus of recently arrived migrants to Washington, D.C. This “busing strategy” is meant to undercut President Joe Biden’s upcoming cancellation of the public health regulations allowing for rapid expulsion of migrants crossing the border. It is the first moment in what will become a dependable strategy for Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and a national political flashpoint.

August 31, 2022

After sending over 7,000 migrants to New York City and Waxshington, D.C., since April, Abbott announces the first bus heading for Chicago, with 60 migrants on board. Abbott says that his state bears the brunt of Democratic lawmakers’ immigration policies. “[Former Chicago] Mayor Lightfoot loves to tout the responsibility of her city to welcome all regardless of legal status,” Abbott explains. “I look forward to seeing this responsibility in action.”

Mid-October, 2022

Over 3,000 migrants—mainly from Venezuela—have arrived in Chicago on buses chartered by Southern Republican governors. President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle calls the strategy “cynical” and “disgraceful.” Most migrants live in and around Chicago Police Department (CPD) police stations.

December 29, 2022

The city announces the conversion of Wadsworth Elementary, a shuttered school in majority-Black Woodlawn, into a migrant shelter. The announcement draws immediate criticism from the area’s alderwoman, Jeannette Taylor, as well as local residents, who claim the city was not transparent about its selection process for Wadsworth.

February 2, 2023

The city begins moving migrants into the Wadsworth Elementary School shelter despite protests of local residents, including two local residents attempting to physically block a bus carrying migrants. Wadsworth is one of many shelters on the South Side that spark criticism of the city’s prioritizing of migrants’ needs over those of underinvested neighborhoods and for sending migrants to these neighborhoods over wealthier ones.

February 13, 2023

Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson unveils a migrant plan on the campaign trail, aiming to counter “forces seeking to divide” Black and Hispanic Chicagoans. His plan includes using a tax on high-end home sales to fund city shelters for asylum seekers and allowing residents to vote in Board of Education elections regardless of citizenship status.

May 31, 2023

A highly contentious City Council session ends with $51 million being allocated from the city budget towards the migrant crisis, with a vote of 34–13. Racial justice is a flashpoint as alderpersons and members of the public accuse the city of double standards, having failed to provide similar funding in underinvested, majority-Black neighborhoods.

June 2023

A team of primarily Venezuelan migrants who met at Wadsworth Elementary shelter form a team for Chicago’s World Refugee Day soccer tournament, which involves diverse refugee and immigrant teams from across the city. The soccer games at Wadsworth were organized by a coalition of Woodlawn churches and local organizations aiming to build ties between migrants and the community.

July 6, 2023

CPD opens an internal investigation into reports of sexual misconduct by police officers towards migrants living in police stations.

July 17, 2023

A new pilot program at a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school converts four classrooms into a “welcome center” for migrants in West Town and Humboldt Park. Services include information about enrolling their children in public schools and accessing healthcare.

September 7, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson unveils plans for moving nearly 1,600 migrants living in CPD stations to winterized tent cities across Chicago.

September 12, 2023

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago faces a $538 million budget shortfall in 2024, with just over $200 million stemming from the city’s response to the migrant crisis. City Council also votes to accept $33 million in federal funding for handling the crisis. Most funds go towards feeding, housing, and clothing migrants, with tent city plans raising the prospect of even greater expenditures.

September 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson comes under fire from his own political base for signing a contract with GardaWorld, a Canadian private security firm, to build and operate the city’s planned tent cities for migrants. Criticism focuses on GardaWorld’s reported safety violations and their work for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis busing migrants to Northern cities.

September 25, 2023

Department of Homeland Security regulations change to allow any migrants who arrived in the United States before August 2023 to get a chance to receive work authorization more quickly. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, about 40 percent of Chicago’s migrants arrived after this cutoff date and will not benefit from the rule change.

October 2023

Residents of the majority-Hispanic and Asian Brighton Park neighborhood protest against a potential tent city site on a large vacant lot at 38th Street and California Avenue. The city responds that the site is only one of many being considered and is still subject to an environmental review.

November 7, 2023

Protestors are escorted out of a City Council meeting debating a donation of land for the city’s tent city plan from a defunct supermarket location. The site in question is at 115th Street and Halsted Avenue in the majority-Black Morgan Park neighborhood. Protestors oppose a tent city being built in their neighborhood, but aldermen vote to accept the donation.

November 16, 2023

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) announces $160 million in funds for Chicago to deal with the migrant crisis, including support for Johnson’s winterized tent shelter, creating an official intake center and moving migrants out of police stations.

November 23, 2023

Many migrants across Chicago celebrate their first Thanksgiving, thanks to the efforts of volunteers at shelters to provide free meals featuring traditional Thanksgiving staples. The Chicago Tribune describes one migrant mother’s gratefulness “for the city that has taken us in” as she celebrates finding an apartment for her family over turkey, stuffing, and Venezuelan arepas and polvorosas.

December 5, 2023

Governor J.B. Pritzker orders Chicago to scrap the Brighton Park and Morgan Park tent city sites after a city report recommended an environmental cleanup before the site is fit for habitation. The decision does not simply leave migrants on the street, as the city has had success moving migrants from police stations and municipal facilities into churches, smaller localized shelters, and locations outside Chicago. According to city officials, no migrants remain in police stations by mid-December, an imperative for winter, as many had been camping outdoors during the warm months.

December 17, 2023

A five-year-old boy living with 2,000 other migrants in a Pilsen warehouse converted to a shelter dies due to strep throat and COVID-19. Five more people are transported to a hospital from the shelter, which is reported to be overcrowded and unsanitary, with water leaking through the ceiling.

December 27, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson joins the mayors of New York City and Denver to appeal for more federal funds for dealing with the migrant crisis. He paints a dire picture, calling it a “critical point” and remarking that city economies are not equipped for dealing with problems of this scale. He adds that “this is not something that should break our country.”

Throughout December 2023

In response to the City of Chicago suing charter migrant-ferrying bus companies and limiting drop-off locations and times, buses from Texas increasingly drop migrants off in suburbs like Rosemont, Manhattan, and Glen Ellyn. Multiple municipalities adopt ordinances to limit these drop-offs, which often take place in parking lots, and sometimes in suburbs with no hotels to temporarily house arrivals.

January 9, 2024

Worsening winter weather prompts many migrants to seek shelter at the city’s new “landing zone”—the site of an under-construction intake center—at 800 South Desplaines Avenue in West Loop. Migrants are supposed to be placed in shelters in the “landing zone.” But as the number of migrants at the zone rose from around 50 to over 500 in early January per city data, migrants are sleeping in ordinary CTA buses repurposed as “warming buses” while the city constructs small heated tents.

January 29, 2024

Mayor Brandon Johnson delays the introduction of his plan to evict migrants from city shelters after 60 days from early February to mid-March. The plan would have forced migrants to reapply for city housing after their 60 days ran out, and around 6,000 migrants would have been evicted had the original schedule been kept. The mayor reasoned that the $1.5 million a day being spent on housing migrants would deplete the city’s migrant crisis budget without state and federal help, but he agreed to a delay of the plan because of unpredictable winter weather. Several aldermen, including City Council Committee on Immigration and Refugee Rights Chair Andre Vasquez of the 40th Ward, praised Johnson for the decision.

February 13, 2024

According to city data, the number of migrants staying at city shelters falls to 13,000 for the first time since November 2023 after reaching a peak of nearly 15,000 in mid-January. The drop is attributable to lower arrival rates in the city and a 50 percent reduction in southern border crossings in January as President Joe Biden responds to Republican border security demands. O’Hare International Airport and the Harold Washington Library are phased out as migrant shelters as a result.

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About the Contributor
Nick Rommel
Nick Rommel, Grey City Reporter
“He toes the line between Cronkite and Kerouac,” Nick Rommel once thought of himself during a Sunday afternoon reverie, a cold beer in one hand and a pencil in the other. Boozy braggadocio? Perhaps. But toeing that line has taken him through cushy offices, pulsating dancehalls, and lonesome beaches. It has introduced him to scholars of freshwater fish, administrators of healthcare behemoths, and the town fiddle players of remote Indian reservations. It’s taken him everywhere from Deutschland to the Dakotas, all in pursuit of a story. But even Nick’s toes get weary. That’s when he finds a comfortable home in the Chicago Maroon’s creative long-form Grey City section. His writing has also appeared in memoryhouse magazine. His radio work appears bi-weekly on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. It appeared for one glorious summer on Prairie Public, North Dakota’s NPR affiliate station. It will continue to appear where you least expect it.
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