Residents concerned as plans for controversial Brighton Park migrant camp move forward

Chicago migrants continue to sleep on police station floors

Liz Nagy Image
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Residents concerned as plans for SW Side migrant camp move forward
Brighton Park residents expressed their concerns as plans to house Chicago migrants at 38th and California move forward.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ink is already dry on a contract to build a base camp for migrants in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood.

"Ninety-thousand dollars a month in rent will be given for that location to house nearly 2,000 migrants at 38th and California," said Alderman Raymond Lopez.

Residents' protest chants are going unanswered.

"Mayor of Chicago, this is stupid," said resident Richard Zupkus. "We ain't got that kind of money! We have a lot of rental units! You want to put them somewhere nice. Put them somewhere nice."

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Last week, a group from the Southwest Side community filed a lawsuit, trying to halt the base camp over environmental concerns on the 10-acre privately-owned lot.

"The community already has concerns about the traffic kicking up dust and debris for the residents who already live there, let alone the ones who are going to be there," Lopez said.

On Tuesday, Mayor Brandon Johnson said the results of an environmental assessment on the controversial plot of land aren't out yet. Bulldozers and work crews have been active there for weeks.

"I have to take steps and make decisions in preparation for what we have to do," Johnson said. "We have to get people, pregnant women who are sleeping on floors in police stations and families who are sleeping outside."

On Tuesday, the Chicago City Council also approved buying land for a second winterized tent location for asylum seekers at 115th and Halsted. As plans for both camp sites trudge forward, there are voices asking begging Chicagoans for compassion.

"It's temporary. They won't be here forever. And, if something happens, we have the Chicago Police Department," one speaker said.

Families will continue Wednesday to move into a migrant shelter on Western Avenue that has also been the source of controversy.

Last week, a judge denied a community group's request for a temporary restraining order to prevent that shelter from being set up.