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Chicago migrants’ lives are at risk in tents in cold weather, volunteer says

<i>WBBM</i><br/>Chicago's migrant population is dealing with their first winter snowfall.
Chicago's migrant population is dealing with their first winter snowfall.

By Marybel Gonzalez

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    CHICAGO, Illinois (WBBM) — Chicago’s migrant population is dealing with their first winter snowfall – with many still waiting for a space in a shelter and sleeping outside in the cold. As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported Tuesday night, the city and volunteers have been taking action to help the asylum seekers stay warm.

At the Austin (15th) District police station, 5701 W. Madison St., a group of migrants relied on goodwill to weather the cold. Volunteer Laurel Fischer-Holden, with the Chicago Police Station Response Team spends her days collecting donations – and then drops them off at the police station for the migrants.

“What’s happening here is criminal,” said Fischer-Holden. “These are human beings, and they’re freezing. And we can fix it, but we’re not.”

On this cold Halloween night, gloves, blankets, and jackets are in demand. Volunteers said there are 150 people sleeping outside – including 60 children.

We saw some families scraping off the snow from their tents.

“Chicago is an asylum city. This is not the kind of asylum we should be offering people,” Fischer-Holden said. “It’s 30 degrees out here, and they’re putting their lives at risk in tents for their asylum.”

On Tuesday, the City of Chicago said it was providing coats and warm clothing at one location, and 21 warming buses as police district stations to provide temporary warmth.

But volunteers say that is not enough.

“The buses aren’t working, because people are reluctant to get on them in the middle of the night, for fear that their belongings will be stolen from their tents,” Fischer-Holden said.

Migrants we spoke with off camera echoed those concerns. But as temperatures dropped Tuesday night, they said the warming buses may be their only option.

“We need a permanent solution for the bad weather,” Fischer-Holden said.

Groups like the Police Station Response Team are still collecting donations as they navigate the crisis. They have various designated drop-off sites across the city. For more information on donations, visit

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