BRIGHTON PARK — Neighbors can learn more about plans to turn a Southwest Side lot into a tent camp for migrants at a meeting Tuesday.
City leaders and Ald. Julia Ramirez (12th), whose ward includes the site at 38th Street and California Avenue, are holding a meeting to share more details with the public 6 p.m. Tuesday at Thomas Kelly High School, 4136 S. California Ave.
The Mayor’s Office on Monday night confirmed it has plans to turn the site into a temporary camp for migrants, saying it “appears viable,” according to the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
The meeting follows a heated protest at the proposed tent camp location Thursday morning, during which Ramirez and a member of her staff were attacked.
Nearly 100 protesters gathered to voice opposition to the city’s plans, saying officials hadn’t notified them properly about the potential camp or taken their input into consideration.
Ramirez was swarmed by protesters when she arrived. People threw signs in her face, screamed, grabbed her and shoved themselves against her as police officers worked to break up the crowd.
Eventually, officers escorted the alderwoman away as a staffer for Ramirez shielded her, helping her get into a car so she could leave.
Police are investigating the “violent act,” Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Police said afterward.
The “winterized base camps” were suggested by Johnson last month as a way to get thousands of migrants out of police stations and provide them a form of shelter as colder temperatures arrive.
Some residents have been vocal in their opposition to the plan. Others have voiced skepticism about the company that received a $29 million city contract to build the camps, GardaWorld Federal Services. But city leaders have defended the decision as a necessary strategy as buses of asylum seekers continue to arrive daily.
In an open letter to 12th Ward residents, Ramirez said the decision to build a tent camp in the ward was made without her.
“When Mayor Johnson’s office announced plans for winterized basecamps in September and asked Alderpeople to submit locations in our wards that could support these temporary shelters, my office did not submit any locations,” the alderwoman wrote. “The Mayor’s administration has been in direct contact with the property owner of the site at 38th & California, without looping in my office.”
Ramirez encouraged any neighbors who want to learn more about the plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
More than 19,000 migrants have arrived to Chicago since August 2022, many of them arriving on buses sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The influx of asylum seekers has overloaded the city’s shelter system, leaving local leaders scrambling for more temporary housing for large numbers of people as the weather cools.
About 3,100 people are sleeping in police station lobbies and at O’Hare Airport, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. About 11,700 people are living in city-run shelters as of Monday — up from 6,600 on Aug. 31.
Many asylum seekers are from Venezuela, which has struggled with an economic crisis that has caused severe food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, widespread unemployment and violent crime.
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