Little Village group asks city to send migrants to their neighborhood instead of Woodlawn

Saturday, February 4, 2023
Little Village group asks city to send migrants to their neighborhood
A Little Village meeting Friday will discuss helping migrants sent to Chicago migrants who began moving into the former Wadsworth Elementary School

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Community members gathered Friday to discuss ways to help migrants who are now staying at a shuttered school on the city's South Side.

Little Village Community Council members reached out to not only the mayor's office, but to members of the Woodlawn community, saying they want to help the incoming migrants feel more at home.

"We been very vocal to the mayor to put the refugees in Little Village, in a community that can understand their language, their culture and their experience because we are an immigrant community and yet she refuses to talk to us," said Baltazar Enriquez, with the Little Village Community Council. "We are already set because we are a migrant community and we have been doing this for years."

SEE ALSO | Chicago school to be used as temporary shelter for migrants, mayor's office confirms

As 250 migrants moved into the former Wadsworth Elementary school, which was turned into a shelter Thursday, city officials said they can stay here indefinitely.

However, Woodlawn residents have taken a strong stance against the migrants moving in.

"There's not anything around for them. The location is right in the back of senior residents other homes in front of a high school," said Woodlawn resident and business owner, Carlas Prince Gilbert.

Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor is even calling on the city to use the money for the migrants for Woodlawn residents.

RELATED | Woodlawn residents question plans to house migrants at vacant CPS building

"They weren't transparent with the residents in the community, so we're not going to be transparent with them," said Andre Smith, CEO of Chicago Against Violence. "They don't want to work with us, we're not working with them."

This shelter is in response to the thousands of migrants that have arrived on more than 100 buses from Texas to Colorado since last summer.

Clergy at a local church have stepped in to provide church services, use of their kitchen, computers and more.

Members in Little Village said they too can help in a bigger way.

"We would have loved to have them in Little Village," Enriquez said. "Paderweski Elementary has been closed for seven years. It's on Lawndale and Cermak, three blocks away from my office, three blocks away from the Salvation Army, Little Village Church. There are already organizations already assisting the homeless and the migrants, but the mayor just refuses to put them in a neighborhood that would understand them."

While 22nd Ward Alderman Michael Rodriguez said he supports welcoming the migrants, the Padrewski Elementary Learning Center is not habitable.

"The windows are not sufficient. There's no copper piping in that place anymore," he said. "But we as a city have an obligation, as a sanctuary city, to support any immigrant who comes to the city."

The Little Village Community Council held a meeting with the Woodlawn community to try and offer more resources to the migrants.