As the Windy City's temperatures plunged, some migrants seeking refuge in Chicago claimed they were forced to abruptly leave the warmth of a local police station Tuesday night, according to CBS News. These individuals, who sought asylum and temporarily found shelter in the Calumet District station, were reportedly told to gather their possessions and vacate the premises.
In what appears to quickly become a contested narrative, the migrants have relayed that their stay at the police station lobby at 727 E. 111th St. came to an unexpected and chilling end. A video shared with CBS News seems to document a police captain firmly instructing the migrants to "get everybody out this station, out this lobby… all this junk out of here." Yet, when reached for comments, Chicago Police News Affairs denied the migrants were expelled, maintaining they were allowed to sleep in the station.
Despite plans for a network of local churches to accept around 100 individuals for lodging starting Wednesday, the current situation underscores a crisis of the moment. Jenny Leal, a volunteer who told WBBM Newsradio, managed to swiftly find an apartment to shield four migrants from the harsh cold. "Our hearts break for them," Leal said. "They're out here in the cold. This shouldn't be — for anybody. We serve the homeless in Chicago, too."
The migrants themselves have expressed a mix of gratitude for the past accommodation and dismay at their treatment amidst the inclement weather. Some migrants voiced that the shelter they were relocated to didn't have enough space for everyone, while others chose not to stay in the proposed shelters. The transition, as they described it, was not merely a movement from one roof to another but rather a push into the cold, which they deemed an inhume act.
As the city attempts to put measures in place to provide migrants with more permanent sanctuary, the stories that emerge from those braving the elements and the responders scrambling to assist them, draw attention to the underlying tension between policy and humanity. These migrants ultimately seek work permits, which would empower them to secure their own homes, carving out a space for themselves in this sprawling metropolis they wish to call home.