Chicago's migrant influx 'only going to be the beginning'

Over the past two years, more than 44,000 migrants have been relocated to Chicago, primarily from Texas. This influx has strained resources and sparked debates about the allocation of tax dollars for housing, feeding, and ensuring the safety of these newcomers. Ald. Andre Vasquez, the chair of the City Council Immigration Committee, predicts that this trend is likely to continue as climate change worsens, leading to increased migration movements.

During a recent City Council hearing, migration experts warned that the arrival of future migrant influxes is imminent. They argue that cities like Chicago, which have access to fresh water, will see an increase in migration as climate change progresses. However, cities may not be adequately prepared to handle these influxes.

The current migrant housing challenges in Chicago began in August 2022 when Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas started sending mostly Venezuelan migrants to the city by bus. Since then, the city has spent approximately $400 million caring for these newcomers.

Recent weeks have seen a decline in the number of new arrivals and people living in city- and state-run shelters, with the current count being 5,950 people. However, climate change has already brought migrants to Chicago in the past, such as during Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Maria in 2017.

Experts implore local governments to build support systems that are ready for future influxes and to partner with climate-vulnerable Latin American and Caribbean countries to help them better handle future crises. They suggest combining shelter systems for both migrants and people experiencing homelessness to prepare for future challenges.

The committee also discussed another potential crisis in Ecuador that could lead to increased migration to the United States and Chicago. The federal government is being urged to grant Ecuadorians coming to the U.S. temporary protected status, which would allow them to work in the U.S. once approved.

Lastly, the committee called on the Chicago Police Department to improve its processing of visas for immigrants who are victims of crime. The department needs to explain why it struggles to process “U” visas, which help victims come forward to address crime even without legal status.

.st1{display:none}See more