With busloads of asylum seekers ferried from Texas to Chicago under a controversial new program, many are in need of supplies and donations as they begin the next leg of their journey.
Chicago set up a new website seeking donations as another bus arrived in the city on Sunday evening.
“As a welcoming city, we know that the people of Chicago are ready to show their generosity and are looking for ways to support these people,” the city’s website says.
While volunteers are slow to process due to safety concerns, the city said those willing to donate their time can sign up to help at participating shelters here.
Otherwise, donations of supplies are being collected, and the city said it will “soon” release a list of drop-off locations.
For those wishing to donate, the city has listed the following as some of the most needed:
- Gift cards
- New clothing (including cold weather clothing; underwear is a priority)
- Athletic shoes
- New hygiene kit items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Reusable bags (sports bags and suitcases)
- Baby formula
- Children’s books (Spanish)
The last group of asylum seekers was dropped off around 4:15 p.m. Sunday at Union Station in Chicago. The city is one of several “sanctuary cities” identified by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to accept migrant buses. The others include Washington, DC and New York.
“It’s part of my program to be a 1,000% welcoming city,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday at a press conference. “…I’ve been very clear during my time as mayor to make sure we’re doing everything we can to provide a safe and welcoming space here in the city of Chicago. This is a time for us to live our values .”
The mayor’s sentiments were a reiteration of what she said on August 31, when nearly 100 asylum seekers first arrived in the city.
While Lightfoot anticipates Texas will continue to send more people to Chicago, she said the city is committed to providing support and resources with help from the state and federal government.
Lightfoot’s office said city agencies are working to put in place temporary “housing and support solutions” and said they look forward to helping “families looking for a brighter future away evil and violence in their country of origin”.
Under Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance,” officials will not ask about immigration status, nor will they release such information to federal authorities. Services will not be denied based on immigration status, according to a document released by the city.
Washington, DC and New York have adopted similar policies.
Lightfoot blasted Abbott’s administration for lacking “shame or humanity” over the program.
“As a city, we are doing everything we can to ensure that these immigrants and their families can receive shelter, food, and most importantly, protection,” his office said. “It’s nothing new, Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants to our city every year and provides much needed help. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is showing no shame or humanity. But since he put in place these racist eviction practices, we have worked with our community partners to prepare the city to welcome these people.”
The operation stemmed from Abbott’s criticism of the Biden administration’s attempts to lift a Title 42 order that had allowed the United States to deny asylum seekers entry into the country during the COVID pandemic.
According to CNN, the program cost Texas about $12.7 million. Abbott’s office says asylum seekers are only transported after giving written permission, but the network says it’s “unclear” what options are presented to those people.
Estimates vary on the number of people who were transported under the program, with most putting the number between 8,000 and 9,000.
New York’s Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro blasted the program, saying it stoked “anti-Latino hatred” in Texas and the rest of the country.
“The treatment they receive in Texas should be condemned,” he told Yahoo! New. “(He) uses human beings to create anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate.”
The Biden administration has not commented directly on the program, but officials in Washington and New York have called on the federal government to provide assistance and help coordinate efforts to help those being bussed from Texas. .