Chicagoans work to provide food, clothing for migrants as politicians point fingers over crisis

Some migrants say they were lied to in Texas, Mexico before arriving in Chicago

Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Politicians point fingers over immigration crisis
Some migrants in Chicago said they were lied to in Texas, run by Greg Abbott. Chuy Garcia says immigration reform is the best way to stop the crisis.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Near West Side police district, like many others, has become home for the recent arrival of migrants, parents, kids and others sleeping on the floors.

Most are Venezuelan, and have fled violence and persecution in their country. William Suarez, 37, left his entire family and his job as a police officer for a better life in America.

"He came here to work, to try to get money, pay taxes, just like everybody else," an interpreter told ABC7.

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Thousands of migrants in Chicago were sent by Texas Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott.

Suarez said Texas promised him somebody would be waiting in Chicago to house him and help him with a job. Suarez realized it was a lie to get him on the plane.

U.S. Rep Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said the migrants have been lied to by people in Mexico as well.

"Human traffickers, drug cartels in Mexico are promoting that there is an open border to exploit people, take advantage of people and hurt people," Garcia said.

Republicans blame President Joe Biden for not securing the border. GOP House members introduced a bill on Tuesday, calling for tighter enforcement. Garcia said immigration reform is the only way to stop the crisis.

"We can manage the migration situation in the western hemisphere if we do it orderly, and if we collaborate with the other affected countries. This is solvable," Garcia said.

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But, Garcia said political polarization will prevent any meaningful reform. And, the migrant crisis is only about to get worse. Title 42, the policy that tightened border regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19, is about to expire on May 11.

In the meantime, city and state resources are running dry to help the migrants.

Lionel Garcia said he and his wife mainly walked with their baby girls from Venezuela, waiting seven months in Mexico to enter the U.S.

Organizations are working to provide Chicago migrants with food and clothing as some sleep on police department floors.

On Monday, he said his wife and his kids got coats, but he went without. When he met with ABC7, he was wearing a short-sleeve shirt on a blustery 40-degree day. He said the situation was very bad in Venezuela, with not enough to eat or live.

Volunteers have brought some food and clothing for new arrivals in Rogers Park. And, the need is growing.

"It seems every week, we are seeing record number of families served," said Care for Real Executive Director Gregory Gross. "The reality is, after a week, our shelves are pretty empty."

Care for Real has seen a record number of clients at their Tuesday Rogers Park food pantry. The increase, the organizations executive director said, has happened as more new arrivals come to the area.

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"They will end up in line in shorts, flip flops, short-sleeve shirts for food, and what we'll do is try to bring them inside to get them some clothes," Gross said.

Mural Movement founder Delilah Martinez is also doing her part by distributing toiletry items donated by the Chicago Bulls.

"I think what we can do is speed up the process of getting their workers permit so they can get to work and may need as many resources as they do right now," Martinez said.

As for Lionel, he is hoping to start working to get things stable for his young family, and for the warmth of Chicago spring to return.

SEE ALSO | City seeks more federal funding to manage migrant influx as some sleep in Chicago police stations