Will President Biden's immigration order limiting asylum-seekers affect migrants in Chicago?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Will Biden's immigration order affect Chicago migrants?
President Joe Biden issued an immigration executive order limiting asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Will it affect migrants in Chicago?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Deep inside the discount mall in the heart of Chicago's Little Village, a Mexican-born business owner is living an immigrant's American dream.

At least, it was supposed to be.

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Even after 20 years in Chicago, Alondra, who asked ABC7 not to show her face, is one of more than 2 million Dreamers left hanging in immigration purgatory.

Tuesday, President Joe Biden took executive action to limit access to asylum-seekers when illegal border crossings reach high levels. Alondra told us how the news made her feel.

"We have been in the shadows for so many years, because they haven't had us through any legal status," Alondra said. "It feels like promises that are not fully there."

While the flow has slowed down, Chicago migrants continue to fill city shelters. For the past two years, cities including Chicago have borne the brunt of the situation as the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We are so disappointed. This is not what we would expect from the Biden Administration. This is essentially a playbook from the Trump administration," said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director for the National Immigration Justice Center.

Biden's announcement came the same day as the National Immigration Justice Center's Human Rights Award luncheon. The organization provides immigration attorneys to asylum seekers. Advocates say helping people at the border, not turning them away, is the American way.

"We need to have more investment and people at the border, people prosecuting cases and the number of judges that are working on asylum cases," said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum.

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Puente said Biden's executive order may cost him some Latino voters.

"I think it's going to cause a great deal of consternation and consideration and how at least I know I cast my vote in November," she said.

"I wish that the president would instead focus on providing the same level of services and work permits that he's provided the 30,000 Ukrainian refugees that have arrived in Chicago," said Chicago voter Miguel Chacon.

Political experts said Tuesday's announcement was aimed at independents, who view immigration as a big issue.

"He sees the gulf with the independent voters and that is where he is trying to reach and bring those back to the Democratic column," said political analyst Thom Serafin.

But others say it's not about votes, it's about saving lives. Chicago Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, a Democrat, called Biden's order dangerous.

"What you're going to see and hear is more people are going to die and drown in the Rio Grande attempting to come in here because we're not actually addressing the root cause of migration," she said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson, who has navigated making room for more than 40,000 migrants, said, in part, "It is time for Congress to finally work with President Biden to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and create fair and functional policies for our country."

Meanwhile, before Biden announced his executive order, the National Immigration Justice Center, the ACLU and others were already crafting language for a lawsuit against the Biden administration similar to what was filed against former President Donald Trump a few years ago.

Chicago has seen fewer migrant arrivals in recent months. As of Tuesday morning, there are a little more than 7,000 migrants living in 17 active shelters across the city.

Since August 2022, nearly 43,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago.