Migrants disembark a bus at Union Station after a 25-hour-long ride from Texas on Sept. 9, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

LINCOLN PARK — Ald. Timmy Knudsen’s office (43rd) is collecting donations for the more than 750 migrants who have arrived to Chicago from Texas.

Knudsen, who was sworn in Wednesday, will accept donations and meet his new constituents noon-2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday at the 43rd Ward office, 2523 N. Halsted St.

Only new items can be accepted, and donations will also be collected in the coming weeks, Knudsen said. Items needed range from hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and soap to clothing, including cold-weather options.

A full list of accepted items is on the city’s website.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) answers questions at a press conference after a City Council meeting on Sept. 21, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The items will be delivered to the hundreds of refugees who have been bused to Chicago from Texas in recent weeks.

State and local officials have repeatedly slammed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for the move, saying he hasn’t communicated about the needs of the migrants and he has sown chaos and treated refugees inhumanely.

But Abbott continues to send asylum seekers here; as of Monday, more than 750 people have arrived since Aug. 31, according to a city news release.

“This is an immoral and inhumane treatment of humans,” said Knudsen, who has a legal background working with LGBTQ asylum seekers. “Seeing these migrants come bused from Texas in this way they’re being sent is really heartbreaking.”

Knudsen got his start working with immigrants while serving as clerk on Sen. Dick Durbins’s Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., he said.

“I was there when we passed the last comprehensive immigration bill through the Senate, but it didn’t get through [the] House,” Knudsen said. “In that process, I got to meet with Dreamers, and it really started to stoke a flame about this issue to me.”

At Knudsen’s first law firm, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, he worked with asylum seekers pro bono, mostly through the National Immigration Justice Center that is headquartered Downtown, Knudsen said.

Knudsen continued working with asylum seekers during visits to the southern border and Tijuana, Mexico, he said. He’s helped more than 40 LGBTQ migrants seek asylum, he said.

“I’ve seen firsthand the turmoil these families are going through, … and I know that members of the 43rd Ward and across Chicago feel the same way that we’ve got to mobilize and support them,” Knudsen said.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) is sworn into the Chicago City Council at a City Council meeting on Sept. 21, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The donation drive is one of two priorities Knudsen outlined on his first day of office. The other is looking at his aldermanic menu dollars — an annual budget of $1.5 million given to each ward to address local needs — to install security cameras throughout the 43rd Ward.

“I live in the Old Town Triangle and know public safety is the biggest concern among neighbors,” Knudsen said. “So the first thing we’re doing is looking at the menu dollars provided to each member of City Council to see where we can put them to ensure that families and children are safe.”

Knudsen fills a vacancy left by former Ald. Michele Smith, who retired in August.

Knudsen served as chair of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and worked on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign finance team when she was elected in 2019. She appointed him to replace Smith, saying he “has singled himself out as an exceptional leader in the 43rd Ward community.”

Knudsen’s a partner at Croke Fairchild Morgan & Beres law firm, where he’s counseled start-up companies, founders and their investors.

At 32, Knudsen is the youngest City Council member. He’s also the first openly gay representative of the 43rd Ward, making him the sixth member of the city’s LGBTQ Caucus.

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