New Arrivals Timeline
1 - Journey to U.S.
Asylum seekers embark on a journey from many countries around the world seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations.
2 - Arriving at the Border
An asylum seeker identifies themselves at the border.They are processed by Border patrol, most undergo a credible fear interview and are paroled into the country with a year's time to apply for asylum.
3 - Bussing to Chicago
Since August 2022, Texas Governor has sent migrants and asylum seekers who crossed the border into the U.S. to Democratic-led cities. As of July 2023, Texas bused over 11,000 people to Chicago.
4 - Arriving to Chicago
Buses arrive to Union Station and are greeted by City officials who transport them to temporary shelters, when space is available. Police district stations are also points of arrival for asylum seekers where they reunite with family members or close networks of support. As shelter beds become available, City officials coordinate transportation from police district stations to temporary shelters.
5 - Life at the Shelter
Chicago's temporary shelters provide a space for people to rest, eat, and access health screenings, case managers and wrap-around services. As shelter beds become available, City officials coordinate transportation from police district stations to temporary shelter.
6 - Wrap-around services and Resettlement
People staying in the city-run temporary shelters can access legal services, children and youth services, resettlement and wrap-around case management to support them in their process of integration into the City of Chicago.
7 - What's the timeline?
Currently, we don't know how many more people will arrive to Chicago but we are creating the infrastructure to support new arrivals. We are working with community partners to identify and activate the best support to help people become self-sufficient.
8 - What's next?
We continue to lobby with the federal government for resources to provide emergency shelter and work authorization for the new arrivals.
You can help! Visit: chicago.gov/support to learn how.
To date, Chicago has welcomed over 13,000 asylum seekers with approximately 6,400 taken to shelter.
While most asylum seekers are from Venezuela, individuals and families are also from all over the world, including countries from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
The majority arriving are predominantly single male adults. However, a few families with young children are also in the City’s care.
For most, their journey starts in South America. Several migrants travel through one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes known as the Darien Gap, into Central America and Mexico, eventually arriving at our portion of the U.S.-Mexico border. The migrants arrive by bus, train, or on foot, while others fly into Mexico and make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. Once paroled into the United States, thousands were bussed to Chicago and dropped off at our Union Station from Texas and Colorado.
The City works in collaboration with delegate agencies and local government departments to provide support for new arrivals.
Shelters are open 24/7, with a curfew of 11 pm. Every shelter has onsite case managers that help connect new arrivals to the services they need, including: healthcare, mental health, family reunification, and other supports.
Individuals at these shelters are focused on rebuilding their lives and creating stability for themselves and their families back home. Many are building new support networks, often with help from case managers, and connect with local faith-based institutions to find community.
Non-citizens need authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work. Each individual has to apply for an employment authorization document (I.e. work permit). New arrivals cannot apply for a work permit until they have a pending immigration application. A work permit application can cost over $410.
The City of Chicago can provide for both the needs of new arrivals and local residents. This is a both/and operation. In addition to the supports structured for new arrivals, the City continues to invest in new, long-term homeless solutions, including developing new non-congregate shelter spaces and increasing permanent supportive housing options.
The City also invests in housing-first strategies to help house people. The City of Chicago invested over $117 M to transform the overall response to homelessness. One of those investments included continuing the investment in rapid rehousing beginning with the Expedited Housing Initiative (EHI), which uses $35 million in CARES funding to house over 1,800 households. Moving forward, another $35 million will be invested to house another 1,300 households and help 1,000 currently housed individuals remain housed.
At this time, our shelter partners cannot accept “walk-up” volunteers due to security and safety concerns for minors and vulnerable populations on-site.