South Shore residents take legal action over migrant respite center plans amid Chicago crisis

Liz Nagy Image
Thursday, May 11, 2023
South Shore residents take legal action over migrant respite center plans
South Shore residents and organizations have filed suit over plans to use shuttered South Shore High School for a migrant respite center.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents of South Shore are taking legal action against the city of Chicago over plans to turn a shuttered neighborhood high school into a migrant respite center.

"Members of the Black Community Collaborative, South Shore constituents and stakeholders are extremely dismayed by the city of Chicago's inability to control and develop safe parameters around housing migrants that have been transported here from the border," said Natasha Dunn.

READ MORE: Volunteers step up to help migrants in Pilsen temporary shelter with Title 42 policy expiring

A week ago, hundreds of South Shore neighbors packed into an auditorium and pilloried city officials as they attempted to explain plans to open a respite center for incoming migrants in the former school building.

"There is also a due process issue," said attorney Frank Avila. "We want the refugees and the asylum-seekers and migrants t come in, but we have areas across the city where they can go. Not centralized in one community."

RELATED: City officials booed, shouted down at meeting on migrants

The city has since officially declared a state of emergency. Chicago has taken in more than 8,000 migrants since August, and more than 200 a day have flooded into the city, overwhelming police station lobbies faster than the city can open shelters.

"There needs to be community participation and community input," Avila said. "If we're talking about migrants and asylum-seekers that came from violent nations, that came from war, that came from poverty, why are we putting them in an area where they can be further traumatized?"

All three respite centers or temporary shelters, like the one proposed for South Shore High School, are on the city's South Side.

"Why not Pilsen, Belmont Cragin, Logan Square, Little Village, South Chicago, South Deering, or Hegewisch? Communities that have a supportive cultural infrastructure?" wondered resident J. Darnell Jones.

Among other things, the lawsuit claims that the South Shore school is not zoned for residential use and the community is being denied proper input.