To date, Chicago has welcomed 5,146 asylum seekers with 3,936 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.
The MARC is a resource center managed by the City. Migrants are provided with an initial intake with the Department of Family Support Services. There they receive diversion support, legal orientation, and other information. To date, 4,825 asylum seekers have received services through the MARC.
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. ESL classes are held at each shelter. They can also visit the MARC for a legal orientation and access to CityKey identification.
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, connecting with local faith-based institutions to find community, and seeking employment.
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.