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Migrants Surge Strains Housing, Other City Resources

With a major pandemic-related restriction on immigration set to expire this week, some cities struggling to house migrants sent north from the southern border are trying to figure out where to put the next wave.

Busloads of migrants, mostly from Texas, began arriving in cities hundreds of miles from the border last year, and officials have been scrambling to provide housing and services for the arrivals in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. Thousands of migrants have arrived in the three cities on buses chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who said Texas was sending migrants to “sanctuary cities” to “provide much-needed relief to our overrun border communities.” Migrant support groups say thousands more have arrived by Greyhound buses and other means, reports the Wall Street Journal. Some migrants choose their destinations because they have relatives with whom they can stay, but many arrive with few resources and end up in shelters. “Most of these people arrive with only the clothes on their back—T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops—and when they arrived in February like that, it doesn’t work in Chicago,” said Nan Warshaw, founder of an all-volunteer group called Refugee Community Connection, which is helping to feed and clothe migrants sleeping in police stations.


As of this month, about 8,100 people have arrived in Chicago on such buses or on commercial flights with tickets paid for by private charities. On Monday, there were 403 migrants staying at police stations, including 127 children. Chicago has about 3,000 beds in its traditional homeless system and some 2,000 more have been added to handle the migrant crisis but all of them are full. In Manhattan court decisions have established a right to shelter, and officials estimate they will spend $4.3 billion through July 2024 providing care to newcomers. Almost 61,000 asylum seekers have been assessed by the city since last spring, and around 37,500 migrants were in city care as of last Wednesday. The migrants have swelled the population in the city’s network of homeless shelters and prompted the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to open 122 emergency shelters and eight relief centers in converted hotels and office buildings. Late last Thursday night, the city started sheltering migrants in the gym of the former police academy on Manhattan’s East Side. On Friday, Adams said the city would send hundreds of migrants to two hotels in counties in the lower Hudson Valley. Rockland County Executive Ed Day declared an emergency over the city’s plans saying it would strain schools, food pantries, and social services.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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