Stories by Acacia Hernandez

(WTTW News)

Entering the 2024 Primary Election Season: A ‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation

As Americans enter the primary election season, Latino voters will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the 2024 election. 

(WTTW News)

Chicago Food Pantries Report Stark Increase in Food Insecurity Amid Inflation, Decreased Federal Assistance

With inflation on the rise, and federal pandemic assistance expiring, food pantries and distributors say food insecurity across the city is spiking. 

Asylum seeker and graphic artist Winter Navas designed this logo to help raise funds for migrant care. (WTTW News)

Venezuelan Asylum Seeker Designs Logo to Help Raise Funds for Group Aiding Migrants

For the many volunteers helping migrants living at Chicago police stations, raising funds is essential. One group teamed up with a Venezuelan migrant to design the logo on merchandise being sold to raise money for food, clothes and medicine for asylum seekers.

Migrants outside a Chicago police station. (WTTW News)

As Migrants Continue to Arrive in Chicago, Officials Call for Collaboration Across Levels of Government

This week marks one year since the first bus of asylum seekers was sent to Chicago from the southern border. More than 13,500 migrants have arrived in the city to date.

(WTTW News)

‘Safety Isn’t Just Physical’: CPS, Community Leaders on Back-to-School Safety in ‘A Safer City’ Conversation

With the second week of classes already under way, WTTW News reporter Joanna Hernandez moderated a live virtual conversation on back-to-school safety for children and youth in Chicago as part of the WTTW News: A Safer City initiative.

(Christoph Scholz / Flickr)

Why Hospitals Are Being Increasingly Targeted by Cyberattacks

Hacking is a growing concern for hospitals and health institutions. Cyberattacks on hospitals and health systems more than doubled from 2016 to 2021, according to a JAMA report.

Students with Rush University Medical Center's Education and Career Hub program known as REACH. (WTTW News)

Future Health Care Workers Aim to Build Trust Following Historically Racist Medical Experiments

Black and Latino students in health care career paths recently shared their findings on past experiments during a summer internship program at Rush University Medical Center.

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago Police Stop-and-Frisk Practices Could Gain Court Oversight, But Activists Say Deal Isn’t Enough

The city of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office negotiated an agreement to shift oversight of CPD’s stop-and-frisk practices into a consent decree governing the department.

(WTTW News)

New Illinois Law That Allows Certain Non-Citizens to Join Law Enforcement Becomes a Flash Point

A new state law will soon allow non-citizens who are both legally eligible to work in the U.S. and authorized to possess firearms under federal law to become police officers and deputy sheriffs.

(Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash)

Chicago-Area Groups Work to Support, Aid Domestic Violence Survivors Amid Surge

An increase in domestic violence reports has not only highlighted the need for better legal protection and laws for survivors, but also the need for creating an improved network of care in cases of abuse. Dozens of organizations in Chicago are working to address those needs. 

(Courtesy of Chicago Defender Charities)

Parading and Peace: Celebrating 94 Years of the Bud Billiken Parade

Chicago’s historic Bud Billiken parade is the largest African American parade in the U.S., drawing in nearly 300,000 people and spanning almost 3 miles.

A homeless encampment in Humboldt Park. (WTTW News)

Local Officials, Organizers Working to Address Humboldt Park’s Growing Homeless Encampment

According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, more than 65,000 Chicagoans are currently unhoused.

A bus outside Broadway Armory. (WTTW News)

40 to 50 Migrants Arrive to Chicago by Bus Daily, Officials Say

Hundreds of migrant men, women and children continue to sleep on police station floors, despite efforts to move them into shelters.

(WTTW News)

A ‘Voices’ Community Conversation: Tackling Public Safety in Chicago

Chicago leaders joined “Chicago Tonight” co-host Brandis Friedman in a discussion focused on how residents, policymakers and community groups are working to address the deeply rooted issue of gun violence.

‘Immensely Invisible’ Details Investigation Into Sexual Assault Claims Inside ICE Detention Facilities

PBS NewsHour producer Zeba Warsi has been investigating sexual assault claims in ICE facilities since 2021. She teamed up with Latino USA and Futuro Investigates to tell the stories of three migrant women.

Empty jury box area readied for members of the jury in the courtroom of Judge Vincent Gaughan at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (Antonio Perez / Pool / Chicago Tribune)

Breaking Down Bail: What Its Abolishment Means for Illinois and the Potential Impact

Illinois is set to become the first state in the nation to entirely eliminate cash bail. This is after the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a contentious portion of the criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act.

(Courtesy of Fiesta del Sol)

Pilsen’s Historic Fiesta del Sol Festival Celebrates 51 Years

It’s going to be a weekend full of vendors, artists and local food at the Fiesta Del Sol festival in Pilsen. This year, organizers are celebrating 51 years of a festival that spans an eight-block space along Cermak Road.

Flooding in Chicago. File photo. (WTTW News)

Addressing the Growing Imbalance Between Water Scarcity and Flooding in Northeastern Illinois

It might come as a surprise given our proximity to Lake Michigan, but some of Chicago’s neighbors could soon be facing a water shortage. According to a new report, flooding and scarcity can “wildly alternate in the same place or transpire in proximity to each other.”

(WTTW News)

Almost 2 Years Ago, Illinois Declared Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis. How Is That $250M Being Spent?

The program pushes $250 million in funds to the state’s hardest hit communities. Designed to interrupt and prevent gun violence, it’s a three-year investment that started at the end of 2021.

(WTTW News)

As Chicago NASCAR Weekend Nears, Residents and Workers Weigh In

It’s almost go time for NASCAR in Chicago. The 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course will run on Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue and South Columbus Drive. People are feeling all sorts of emotions — from excitement to curiosity to concern.

(Courtesy of Andre Castro)

UChicago Alumnus Making NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut in City He Used to Call Home

Andre Castro is making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this Saturday in Chicago. He’s used to street racing and skyline views, but stock cars will be a new one for him.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Officials Look Toward More Sustainable Model in Aiding Thousands of Asylum Seekers

More than 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived since last August — many sleeping on police station floors after congregate shelters reached capacity, spurring community organizations and churches to step in and help. Chicago is now aiming to create a model to operate as a truly “welcoming city.”

(WTTW News)

How Student ‘Peace Warriors’ Are Countering Violence on Chicago’s West Side

A group of students is countering violence on Chicago’s West Side by planting a peace garden and creating peace corners in classrooms in honor of Juneteenth. But this isn’t something out of the ordinary for them. They’re known as Peace Warriors — born out of North Lawndale College Prep almost 15 years ago.

(WTTW News)

10 Years After Historic School Closures, Englewood Residents Work to Transform Empty Buildings Into Community Hubs

Englewood had six elementary schools close in 2013 — the most in any neighborhood that year. But in the years since that upheaval, residents have found ways to help the community.

This file photo shows the former site of General Iron in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. (WTTW News)

For Some Environmental Activists, the Fight Against Southside Recycling In Their Community Is Deeply Personal

Chicago Department of Public Health officials determined last year the operation posed an “unacceptable risk” to the health of nearby residents, following Environmental Protection Agency investigations and activism from local residents who said their neighborhood could not withstand the pollution they believe the new Southside Recycling facility will bring.

(WTTW News)

Edgewater Residents Call for Answers as City Eyes Broadway Armory as Possible Migrant Center

Broadway Armory Park is one of Chicago Park District’s largest indoor and active recreational facilities. Residents are worried this would mean youth and senior programs getting canceled or postponed and said it would be a loss for the neighborhood ahead of summer.