New Life Center tries to help Chicago migrants while bracing for 2nd wave after Title 42 expires

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, May 8, 2023
New Life Center tries to help migrants while bracing for new wave
The end of COVID-19 pandemic Title 42 policy Thursday will only increase the number of migrants in Chicago, experts say.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The New Life Center in Little Village is packed as more migrants arrive in Chicago every day, and with the pandemic-era Title 42 police ending Thursday, an even larger flood of new arrivals is expected.

All who are sent to Chicago are in need of food, shelter and resources.

"We are anticipating that it will continue to grow. What's already happening will just continue to grow," said Chris Ophus, assistant director of New Life Centers.

Police stations across Chicago are flooded with asylum-seekers. Families have spent their days and nights on cold lobby floors. Some are now forced to stay at centers like New Life because police stations are so overrun.

"The biggest thing is probably there is a need to open more shelters. There is going to be a need to open more shelters," Ophus said.

"We are running out of manpower and resources," Villegas said.

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A portable shower trailer makes its way all over the city on a daily basis to give migrants a chance o bathe.

"We have this dilemma where we try to service the local homeless community because that's what we specialize in. But with the refugees coming from different countries, we are kind of stretched out thin right now. But we're trying to do whatever we can," said Christian Peyret of Shower Up Chicago.

The dire situation is only expecting to worsen once Title 42 expire. The police allowed the U.S. to turn away migrants at the border during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are going to see a huge backlog of people who had been waiting in Mexico for a chance to ask for asylum," said Shailja Sharma, co-director of the DePaul Migration Collaborative and Refugee and Forced Migration Studies professor. "If numbers go up, then we will see more people come to Chicago. And Chicago usually is not the first protocol for migrants and asylum-seekers, so we actually don't have the infrastructure and the services that they need. And they need a lot of services."

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"The amount of people coming versus the amount of people who are able to move out, there's going to be a need to open more spaces so we'll continue to roll up our sleeves and sleep afterward," Ophus said.

If you'd like to donate to help New Life Centers, you can do so here.