Two Venezuelan families sat on metal chairs in the lobby of a Chicago police station Tuesday, desperate for permanent shelter after spending months walking and taking buses to get to the U.S. Jessica Chirino said her family had been waiting six days to hear about what shelter might have space. “We’ve been through so much to get here, so much, for this,” Chirino said. Across the city, migrants overwhelming the city’s social services have been living at police stations while awaiting placement at shelters, raising health and humanitarian concerns among police and local officials, reports the Chicago Tribune. People seeking asylum have been sent to more than a dozen police districts around the city, sleeping in lobbies and waiting — often with children — for days.
This month, more than a dozen people, nearly all women and children, were sitting in the lobby of another police station. They sat on a ledge along the building’s front window, visible from the street as they rested and waited. The Fraternal Order of Police has filed a grievance over the situation, saying it raises potential health, safety and liability issues, and uses police resources for shelter that should be provided by social service agencies. “This city said, ‘We’re a welcoming city, we’ll take you,’ but has no plans to do that,” said Chicago FOP President John Catanzara. “This is not a knock on them, but these people are now living in the lobbies of police stations, which is ridiculous.” More than 6,000 migrants have come to the city since last fall, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began sending busloads of migrants to Chicago to protest the influx in his state. Then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized Abbott for mistreating the migrants, and said the city would take care of them.