CHICAGO — Chicago will do “everything we can” to support about 60 migrants who arrived Wednesday night in the city after being forced out of Texas, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, is putting migrants in his state on buses and sending them to Democrat-led cities, including Chicago, as part of a protest of federal policies, he announced this week. Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker said they’d welcome the migrants and asylum seekers as Chicago is a sanctuary city that protects undocumented people.
The first buses of migrants coming to Chicago arrived Wednesday night, Abbott said in a tweet.
Chicago is a “welcoming city,” and City Hall departments collaborated to greet the migrants with “dignity and respect,” Lightfoot said in a news release.
“We understand that many are fleeing violent, traumatic or otherwise unstable environments,” Lightfoot said. “We will respond with essential services while these individuals navigate the next steps of their journey and our community partners have been working diligently to provide a safety net.”
The city is doing everything possible to provide shelter, food and protection to the immigrants, Lightfoot said.
“This is not new; Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year to our city and provides much-needed assistance,” Lightfoot said in the news release. “We know that racism, discrimination and human cruelty have played a pivotal role in how immigrants are received within our borders, and we are still working to recover from the previous presidential administration, which encouraged this behavior.
“This is such an important moment for Chicago as a city has been a sanctuary for thousands of newcomers. We are welcoming them, and we will not turn our backs on those who need our help the most.”
The immigrants were dropped off at Union Station, and many were then taken to shelters, according to the Sun-Times. Many of them are from Venezuela, and some said they traveled for almost 40 days through perilous conditions to get to Texas, according to the Sun-Times.
One father who arrived in Chicago with his pregnant wife and 3-year-old daughter told the Sun-Times they traveled for two months to get to the United States, where they hope to build a better life for their children.
State officials are working with the city and with federal leaders to ensure the immigrants are kept safe and treated with respect, Pritzker said in a news release.
“My great-grandfather came to this country as an immigrant fleeing Ukraine in 1881,” Pritzker said in the news release. “Immigrants just like my family seeking freedom and opportunity built this country. Illinois is and has always been a welcoming state.”
Abbott has previously criticized Chicago, leading to clashes with Lightfoot and Pritzker.
The mayor slammed Abbott on Wednesday, saying his policy is racist — but Chicago is prepared to help people in need.
“Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is without any shame or humanity,” Lightfoot said in the news release. “But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals.”
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