Vigil to be held for migrant boy, 5, who died after falling ill at Pilsen shelter

Diane Pathieu Image
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Vigil to honor boy, 5, who died at Chicago migrant shelter
After a 5-year-old migrant boy got sick and died in a Chicago shelter, a vigil will be held in his honor Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A vigil will be held Wednesday in honor of a five-year-old migrant who died after becoming sick at a Pilsen shelter.

Jean Carlos Martinez, 5, died on Sunday, after city officials say he suffered a medical emergency, and not an infectious disease.

His family, is now staying at an apartment. Several other people have reported being sick at the shelter in Pilsen.

But the city said the boy's death is not related to the three other children who were taken to the hospital from that facility earlier this week.

Volunteers are working on ways to get medical supplies to the asylum-seekers.

"And so we want to just partner with them in whatever way that we can. And it took all of this time it took the death of a five-year-old to get access," Veronica Saldana, who works at the Pilsen Food Pantry and Clothing Donation Center, said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson said this week, many migrants are arriving in Chicago already sick and there is an ongoing investigation into safety protocols providing service to the shelters.

There is a 48-hour advance notice requirement for any alderperson wanting to inspect a shelter site, and this morning, many are raising questions about transparency.

Governor JB Pritzker issued a statement saying, "I'm deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of a young child in one of Chicago's shelters, and my thoughts are with his family. No family should have to grapple with this immense loss while also trying to make a new home for themselves away from violence and persecution.

"As we have seen before, this is a devastating result of border politicians playing political games with people's lives and their complete disregard for every asylum seeker's wellbeing. They are treating people as pawns, but here in Illinois, we are continually working to meet this humanitarian crisis. We are in close communication with City officials and have offered our support."