CHICAGO — According to a migrant who spoke to NBC News on Monday, Chicago has initiated the eviction of some migrants from its shelters, a controversial measure that had been postponed for months but now seems to be implemented haphazardly.

Those who have been evicted, as well as those facing an imminent deadline, expressed widespread confusion about the eviction process and frustration at being compelled to vacate while lacking the means to secure alternative accommodations.

The city reported that in the initial two days of enforcement, fewer than 10 migrants were evicted from their shelters. A city spokesperson stated that five migrants were ejected on Monday and three on Sunday due to the policy.

Franklin Romero, a 29-year-old Venezuelan migrant, recounted being informed at the Woodlawn shelter just one day before that he must vacate by 2 p.m. on Monday. “It was unbelievable. We have no stability,” remarked Romero, who was dressed in a silver coat and black pants after being forced out amid freezing temperatures and snow flurries.

Romero explained that he had to work on Monday and couldn’t depart the shelter before 2 p.m. while carrying all of his belongings. Additionally, he claimed another individual at the shelter informed him that he actually needed to leave by 12:30 p.m.

Feeling disrespected by the rushed eviction from the place he had called home for months, he expressed his sentiments. “It was evident that I needed to depart, and I respected that, but the treatment displayed a lack of respect,” he stated.

As of Monday, the city reported 11,253 migrants housed across 23 city- and state-run shelters, with approximately 37,308 new arrivals since 2022, a trend that began when Texas Governor Greg Abbott started sending people to cities nationwide.

To regulate shelter stays, the city aims to limit them to 60 days for over 10,000 migrants, requiring them to secure housing or apply for alternative shelter at the city’s “landing zone” for new arrivals upon reaching their exit dates. These evictions coincide with a measles outbreak in one of the shelters, while thousands of migrants, including families with children, have been granted extensions.

Initially, the city announced migrants had such as enrollment in public benefits, pregnancy or infant care, medical needs, isolation or quarantine, and having families with children under 18.

City officials also stated on Friday that 2,026 individuals would be evicted from their current shelters by the end of April. Enforcement of this policy was delayed three times due to severe winter weather, staffing issues, and opposition from advocates and certain elected officials. On Monday, the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus issued a statement opposing the policy.

Maria Perez, a volunteer with the Southwest Collective, a coalition of organizations offering social services, highlighted that extensions fail to address the underlying issue of insufficient resources for migrants to secure employment and affordable housing. “Thirty more days is insufficient. They require the necessary support to integrate and thrive in this community,” she emphasized outside a shelter facing eviction.

Why are we recycling them, essentially?” she queried. “We’re just returning these individuals to the same predicament, where they’ll likely continue migrating.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration contends that the policy is necessary to alleviate pressure on certain shelters, particularly those that accommodate single migrants, including the Woodlawn facility.

Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, stated at a recent briefing, “These are among our more costly shelters to operate, and our aim is to efficiently utilize the resources available to us.”

Johnson, on Friday, asserted, “By promoting resettlement while also granting specific extensions focusing on health and safety, we are paving the way for stability and self-sufficiency.”

On Monday, Romero visited the landing zone, seeking placement at another shelter. However, even after his new exit date was processed, he remained uncertain about his destination. “I still don’t know,” he remarked before heading to a warming bus for migrants at the landing zone. “Let’s see where they take me.”

The city stated Monday evening, “Those departing have the choice to return to the landing zone for reprocessing and potential reassignment to a shelter if suitable beds are available or opt for onward movement.”

Yorman Yepez, a 25-year-old Venezuelan migrant, stood in the freezing cold for hours, awaiting his friend Romero’s return from inside the landing zone as occasional snowflakes fell. Hindered by a lack of Wi-Fi, they couldn’t communicate, and Yepez wished to accompany Romero to his new placement.

“How would you feel if someone told you that you had to leave today from the place where you’ve been living?” Yepez asked, sporting a gray hoodie and white sandals with socks. His exit date is April 8. “It’s not pleasant. You feel abandoned,” he expressed.

Yepez lamented that the policy disrupts friendships and the bonds formed between shelter residents who arrive in the U.S. without knowing anyone in the country. “It’s extremely tough. We’re here alone,” he emphasized.

Several migrants at the former Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn mentioned that the shelter had vacant cots and rooms, leaving them puzzled about the necessity for evictions.

Lisbeth Velasquez Mambel, aged 36, shared her anxiety about her upcoming exit date, but she received an extension on Monday due to her apartment application process. Though her new exit date is in May, she fears that some fellow migrants will be left on the streets in the cold, reminiscent of her own experiences sleeping on cardboard outside shelters at police stations. “This isn’t the solution,” she asserted.

Romero’s quest for his next placement ended with a bus ride bringing him back to the same shelter he had left that morning. Now, he has another 60 days before facing eviction once more.


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