Chicago Delegation Visits Southern Border

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsA Chicago delegation of city, state, faith and philanthropic leaders, led by Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Rights, Beatriz Ponce de Leon, visited the southern border this last week. The delegation travelled to the Texas cities of El Paso, San Antonio, McAllen and Brownsville, which together comprise the primary points of departure for migrants traveling to Chicago by both bus and air.

“With the weather growing colder and hundreds of migrants arriving each day, it is more important than ever that every stakeholder at the state, federal and local level work diligently to address this challenge, while continuing to meet the needs of Chicago and Illinois residents,” Johnson’s office said in a statement.

The purpose of this trip is to review operations at federal processing centers, and municipal and NGO-led transit sites, and begin discussions with local stakeholders about ways to alleviate the financial and operations challenges in both Chicago and at the border.

A point of emphasis was to establish better lines of communication and collecting migrant data to expedite work authorization processing and the transition to self-sufficiency. The Chicago delegation will also be sharing pertinent information about extreme housing and weather conditions currently facing asylum seekers in Chicago, and the immense challenges awaiting those without verified sponsors.

Hall and fellow aldermen Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) and Lamont Robinson (4th Ward) were among the delegation that made the trip South, where they gained a firsthand look at the migrant crisis happening at the Texas border. “When people are entering the end of checkpoints, they are really confused about what the next steps [are],” Sigcho-Lopez said. “There is really little support or coordination on what is the destination point.”

The Mayor, along with senior aides and key operations personnel, stayed in Chicago to address the immediate urgency of adding shelter space to house thousands of new arrivals currently sleeping in police stations, airports or outside. Right now, there are 11,000 migrants in city shelters and 3,600 others awaiting placement.

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