Chicago begins evicting immigrants from shelters as residents denounce ‘lack of respect’

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CHICAGO – Chicago has begun evict some immigrants from their sheltersa controversial policy that had been delayed for months but seemed messy, one migrant told NBC News on Monday.

Immigrants who have been evicted, as well as those facing a Deadline fast approachingHe said there has been widespread confusion about the process and frustration over being forced to leave while still lacking the resources to find their own places to stay.

According to the city, in the first two days of enforcement, fewer than 10 immigrants have been evicted from their shelters. Five immigrants were forced to leave on Monday because of that policy, a city spokesman said, while three were evicted on Sunday.

Franklin Romero, 29, a Venezuelan migrant, said someone told him at the Woodlawn shelter just a day before that he had to leave before 2 p.m. Monday.

“It was unbelievable. We have no stability,” said Romero, who was wearing a silver coat and black pants after he was forced outside on a day with frigid temperatures and flurries of snow.

Romero said he tried to explain to her that he had to work on Monday and couldn’t leave the shelter before 2 p.m. with all his belongings. He also said that another person at the shelter told him that he actually needed to leave before 12:30 p.m.

He felt disrespected being forced to leave the place he had called home for months.

“It was clear that I needed to leave and I respected that, but the treatment was disrespectful,” he said.

The city said Monday that there were 11,253 migrants in 23 city- and state-run shelters and that it has received about 37,308 new arrivals since 2022, when Texas Governor Greg Abbot began sending people to cities all over the country.

The city has tried to limit shelter stays to 60 days for more than 10,000 immigrants, requiring them to find accommodation or request other shelter in the city’s “landing zone” for new arrivals after their departure dates arrive. Evictions also occur amidst a measles outbreak in one of the shelters.

Thousands of immigrants, including families with children, have received extensions.

On Friday, the city said nearly three dozen people would be evacuated from its shelters on Sunday, but by afternoon it said 31 immigrants received extensions because of the exemptions, which include enrollment in public benefits, pregnancy or baby care, care medical, medical assistance. isolation and quarantine, as well as having families with children under 18 years of age.

City officials also said Friday that 2,026 people would be evacuated from their current shelters by the end of April.

Enforcement was postponed three times due to extreme winter weather, concerns about staffing, and backlash from advocates and some elected officials. On Monday, the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus issued a statement opposing the policy.

Volunteer María Pérez, a member of Colectivo Suroeste, a group of groups that provide social services, said the extensions do not solve the larger problem of the lack of resources for immigrants to obtain jobs and housing they can afford.

“Thirty more days is not enough time. They need the tools that will allow them to be successful in this community,” he said Monday outside a shelter where immigrants face eviction.

“Why do we reprocess them, right?” he asked. “So we’re just putting these people back into this situation where they’re going to migrate everywhere.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration has said the policy is necessary to “decompress” some shelters, especially three that house single immigrants, including the Woodlawn center.

“These are some of our most expensive shelters to operate, and what we’re trying to do is optimize the resources we have to be able to run them,” Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, said at a briefing. recent briefing.

Johnson said Friday that “by encouraging resettlement while providing case-specific extensions with a focus on health and safety, we are moving forward on a path toward stability and self-sufficiency.”

Romero went to the landing zone on Monday to seek placement at another shelter, but after his new departure day was processed, he still didn’t know where he was being placed.

“I don’t know yet,” he said before heading to a warm migrant bus at the landing zone. “Let’s wait and see where they take me.”

The city said in a statement Monday night: “Those leaving have the option of returning to the Landing Zone and being reprocessed and placed in shelter once again if adequate beds are available or choosing to continue moving forward.”

Yorman Yépez, 25, a Venezuelan migrant, stood for hours in the freezing cold waiting for his friend Romero to return from inside the landing zone as occasional flurries of snow fell. The two could not communicate because they lacked Wi-Fi and Yépez wanted to accompany Romero to his new destination.

“How would you feel if someone told you that today you had to leave the place where you have been living?” Yepez said, wearing a gray hoodie and white sandals with socks. His departure date is April 8. “It’s not pretty. “You feel marginalized,” he said.

Yépez said the policy disrupts the friendships and camaraderie that is built among shelter residents who come to the United States without knowing anyone in the country.

“It is really difficult. “We are here alone,” she said.

Several immigrants from the former Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn said the shelter had cots and rooms still empty and they didn’t understand why people had to be evacuated.

Lisbeth Velasquez Mambel, 36, said she was looking forward to her departure day in a few weeks, but then they gave her an extension on Monday because she is in the process of getting an apartment.

His new departure day is in May, but he fears that some fellow immigrants will be forced to go outside due to the cold, like when he had to sleep on cardboard outside the police station shelters.

“This is not the solution,” he said.

Romero said his question about where he would be placed next ended in a bus ride that took him back to the same shelter he left that morning.

He now has 60 more days before facing eviction again.

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