The battle over the border is heating up between political parties.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to bus hundreds of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities across the country. That includes Chicago, which has welcomed more than 500 people seeking asylum since Aug. 31. Another bus arrived Thursday night at Union Station.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a disaster declaration and is deploying 75 members of the Illinois National Guard to assist those individuals.
City and state officials have been rushing to find the arriving migrants emergency housing and the state has sent some people to nearby suburbs.
On Thursday, Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso criticized Chicago and Illinois officials for not informing the village of the migrants’ arrival. But he also added that his office is actively working with businesses and the school district to assist the 64 people staying at a local hotel.
“We are providing them every day amenities. We have police protection here of course, there are many people in the village who have stepped up wanting to give food, clothing, offers of employment,” Grasso said. “The school board has reached out for educational opportunities, if any of them are going to stay in the area at the end.”
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is calling out Abbott for his decision to send migrants without notice, saying it’s adding to the refugees’ challenges.
For those arriving, it’s a long process to apply for asylum, a work visa and other documents. Not to mention, they all will have to appear at immigration court hearings.
Area organizations have also been coming together to assist as quickly as they can.
Jose Ventura, director of legal services at Centro Romero, says at this stage organizations and coalitions are trying to process case by case, but it’s overwhelming.
“The main focus is to try and see how they qualify, and if they do for some sort of benefits to get work authorization,” Ventura said. “Most of them don’t, but some of them do and just to have the work authorization is a lot because then you get a Social Security [number] as well and that allows you to move within the society.”
Ventura says Centro Romero typically assists 80 to 90 people with legal services. Now, they are seeing that number increase to over 200 individuals. He says it’s going to take years to completely serve all the newly arriving migrants.
“Some of them have been paroled, which means they are given a certain period of time to be here legally,” Romero said. “Some of them were not given anything, some of them were put in removal proceedings and issues with notice to appear sometimes in three months and sometimes in two years. So it’s all over the place.”
Ventura also says this is the first time his organization is seeing hundreds of people seeking asylum from Venezuela, a country experiencing political turmoil.