Asylum seekers await shelter from the cold temperatures in tents outside the Chicago Police Department’s 2nd District station in Fuller Park on Oct. 30, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CITY HALL — Chicago is putting a limit on how long asylum seekers can stay in city-run shelters in an effort to speed up resettlement efforts, officials said Wednesday.

Mayor Brandon Johnson made the announcement Wednesday afternoon ahead of an expected move by the state and county this week to increase funding and expand programs for migrants in Chicago and elsewhere.

But Johnson offered few details on what the 60-day limit would mean for the thousands of migrants living in the 25 shelters that have been set up across the city to house new arrivals.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 12,000 migrants were living in the temporary shelters. About 1,800 asylum seekers continue to be housed at police stations, with almost 600 at O’Hare International Airport, according to city data.

“We are implementing a tiered, 60-day shelter stay limit, combined with robust case management and workforce access to move new arrivals through our system to self sufficiency and economic stability,” Johnson said during a press conference following the passage of his 2024 budget.

Johnson did not answer repeated questions about what would happen to migrants after 60 days, saying more details would be announced Friday.

Johnson also said the city would begin citing and fining bus companies that skirt curfews, landing zone locations and unloading rules when dropping off migrants in Chicago. Buses in recent months have arrived throughout the night and without prior notice, leaving city officials scrambling to accommodate asylum seekers.

The bus and shuttle station at O’Hare International Airport has been converted to a temporary shelter for asylum seekers, as seen on Oct. 18, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Speaking after Wednesday’s press conference, Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas said with the help of the new state programs, migrants will receive “comprehensive case management” and additional support. But she, too, offered little additional information about the policy change.

“No one will be kicked out if they’re able to demonstrate that they have made progress with seeking permanent housing,” she said. The tiered approach “is coordinated with people’s eligibility for work authorization, temporary protective status, other state benefits.”

Increased state funding and support will help create a more “expedited process” to integrate migrants into Chicago’s communities, Johnson said.

“The state of Illinois, they understand what our requests and what the assignment is as a sanctuary state. They know that we have to clear out these police districts, we’ve got to get people who are sleeping outside indoors and we have to create work authorization in an expedited way so that these families can contribute to the economy,” he said.

“We’re putting some restrictions and some boundaries and parameters in place. But the ultimate goal is to make sure that these families are treated with dignity.”

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