Over 300 Chicago migrants placed at Wilbur Wright College shelter

Liz Nagy Image
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Over 300 migrants placed at Wilbur Wright College shelter
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Chicago has placed 304 migrants at a shelter set up at Wilbur Wright College over the last two days.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 300 migrants are now temporarily living at Wilbur Wright College.

They began arriving by bus on Sunday after an invitation from the school's chancellor, and a hastily-organized plan to open a shelter, in a community with a very mixed welcome.

On Memorial Day, in their new adopted city, migrants lingered in the shade outside a newly opened Northwest Side shelter. Wright College is supposed to be a home just for the summer.

"We were told there would be nobody here until June 1, and they're already here. So, if the city lied about the date they're going to get here, are they lying about when they're going to leave?" said Ken Lavorata, who lives near the shelter.

After a fiery meeting late last week, the city opened the doors to the temporary community shelter on Sunday. They are now some of the nearly 4,500 migrants sleeping in city-sanctioned shelters across Chicago. Many of them have next to nothing to their name.

At the site of something new, small children scampered to Ximena Moreano as she doled out a few tiny toys into their waiting hands.

"I was just coming out of work, and I turned the corner and I saw all the kids sitting in the grass, and I was like 'I have to go get them bubbles,'" Moreano said.

A mother of three grown children, Moreano said she couldn't just pass by.

"We can't say no to people. We're all human beings, so I think everybody needs to realize that we just have to help each other," Moreano said.

Another man came by with bags of clothes. Clutching his infant, a young father gladly sorted through them, searching for anything.

Chicago is now home to more than 9,000 migrants, and the city says more than 550 are still living on police station floors. Alderman Nicholas Sposato, who represents the 38th Ward, wants federal work permits for migrants expedited.

"They want to work. They're not here to live in shelters or sponge off of America. Give them an opportunity to work. In no time, they'll be renting apartments, owning apartments, owning houses," Sposato said.

Still, Sposato plans to vote against a $51 million plan to fund shelters and migrant services, like one in his ward, for the same reason many don't want migrants shelters in their neighborhoods.

"If that $51 mil was for all homeless people, I certainly would support it, but since it's only for asylum-seekers. I do not support it," Sposato said.

The shelter is only until Aug. 1, but many question that end timeline as well. The city council will vote on migrant funding on Wednesday.