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Chicago volunteers plead for resources to handle migrant influx as Title 42 set to expire this week

By Cate Cauguiran

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    CHICAGO (WLS) — For some migrant families who have arrived in Chicago, their front yard is the entrance to 8th District Police Station. The only place they have to sleep is the station’s lobby floor.

“Some of these families have traveled for over a year to get here,” said 8th District Police Response Team lead volunteer coordinator Erika Villegas. “By foot, through jungles, through trains, through so much trauma.”

One woman staying there is several months pregnant and another family has a young boy in need of medical attention.

“This is tearing me apart,” a volunteer said. “I haven’t slept for three days knowing I’m sleeping in a bed.”

This is the reality for thousands of migrants throughout the city. The help available can’t keep up with the demand as more migrants make their way to Chicago.

“We are running out of manpower and resources,” Villegas said.

Villegas and other volunteers are pleading with the city for more help.

“We need them to look for options to help us get showers into these places, to help us bring medical teams to see some of our families before things get worse,” Villegas said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday there is not enough money to fund the influx.

“We’re going to keep demanding our fair share of resources from the federal government,” Lightfoot said. “FEMA has got to step up and support Chicago, and they have not done that to the proportion to which I think we are entitled.”

Political pressure is mounting in Chicago and along the US-Mexico border as Title 42 is set to expire this week.

The pandemic-era policy, that quickly expelled migrants, is expected to be lifted by Thursday. This could result in more asylum seekers coming to Chicago.

“We’re worried that more families will be arriving,” Villegas said. “We know that we’re at capacity, and so we need our elected officials to step up.”

As the migrant community and its advocates wait for more aid, donators have come by to drop off food, blankets and shoes.

“They just want a better life for their children,” a volunteer said. “Their kids want to go to school. They need to eat everyday.”

Those who have made it their mission to help this community continue to exhaust themselves as they exhaust resources.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions,” Villegas said. “There’s been a lot of tears from many of us, but I think that is a motivation to keep moving forward and to keep helping people, because at the end of that, could have been our families many years ago.”

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