Chicago to start evicting illegal migrants from shelters Saturday

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson plans to start evicting waves of illegal immigrants from the city’s shelter system this weekend as his 60-day rule kicks in.

The policy, which has drawn sharp criticism from progressive lawmakers, has already been delayed several times since November due to the cold weather, but Johnson said Friday that 35 migrants will be told to leave on Saturday with around 5,600 expected to be booted out on a staggered basis over the coming weeks.

There are currently 11,200 migrants being housed by the city, down from a late-December high of 14,900, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

Illegal migrants sit on cots and the floor of a makeshift shelter operating at O’Hare International Airport on Aug. 31, 2023. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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Some eviction exemptions are being made for those who have medical conditions, are in the process of securing housing or experiencing domestic violence or are pregnant. There is also a measles outbreak at one of the shelters to consider. 

“There are exemptions even within this policy, that are still permissible,” Johnson said, according to Fox 32 Chicago.

“Individuals who are in the process of securing housing or outmigration, if there are other extenuating circumstances around their health or pregnancy. There are a number of people who won’t be subject because they fall under that particular dimension of the policy.”

A larger wave of about 2,000 migrants will be required to leave after next week and the end of April, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing the Johnson administration. 

Chicago migrants

A group of migrants receives food outside a migrant landing zone during a winter storm in January in Chicago, Illinois. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Their evictions will be staggered, with 244 set to be removed by the end of March and 1,782 more are scheduled to be forced to leave Chicago shelters between April 1 and April 30, the publication reports. 

The evicted migrants will be directed back to the the city’s designated “landing zone,” at 800 S. Desplaines St., where they can reapply for a bed. The zone is essentially a temporary shelter where migrants can stay on parked city buses.

About 10% of the migrants in brick-and-mortar shelters are eligible for employment authorization under federal law and around 1,300 households are in the process of securing state rental assistance, Fox 32 reports, citing state officials.

Several City Council members opposed the evictions earlier this week, with 18 of them signing a letter to the mayor urging him not to go ahead with the policy, arguing that the migrants will be cut off from stability.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson says evictions will begin on Saturday. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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The lawmakers also pressurized Johnson not to evict in January and he heeded their calls, although the weather was a lot harsher back then.

On Wednesday, Johnson decried the absence of federal support and calling on Congress to punish Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for busing migrants to the sanctuary city, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

In January, Johnson argued Abbott had been “attacking” cities run by Black leaders with waves of migrants.

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