The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Pretending Immigrants Are Welcome in Chicago

Jan 23, 2023

Responding to the Chicago mayor’s boastful claim that Chicago is a “welcoming” city, immigrant workers are arriving in busloads at the city’s downtown Union Station. But they are experiencing a starkly different reality.

In pompous political grandstanding last year, Democratic Party officials made a pledge they knew full well would not be realized—that the city’s doors are wide open and migrants will receive the support necessary to continue on with their lives. This cruel deception is now leaving thousands of immigrant workers in a state of desperation, to fend for themselves in their search for shelter, food, and clothing during the coldest months of the year.

Since August, more than 5,000 immigrant workers have arrived on buses and many others are coming on their own or in groups. Fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries, they are in a frantic search for jobs that pay enough to support themselves and their families.

On one January night, 40 Venezuelan migrants who came on the same bus departed the bus station in different directions in search of a warm place to sleep. Most spent days wandering the streets seeking shelter and food, sleeping on concrete sidewalks, under bus shelters and in parking garages.

They were told to use a 311 emergency number for help with housing and other needs. But since existing shelters are already overcrowded, many are being routed to train stations, police stations, or public buildings. Often, if allowed to sleep overnight, they are required to leave by 5 a.m. The emergency number provides little help. Callers are most often told to go to warming centers and wait for a callback when a shelter becomes available. Often there is no callback. If a shelter is eventually found it is sometimes miles away.

In early January, a family of four, including a baby, roamed the streets for days without jackets or money for food. After calling 311, the family was told to wait for a callback which never came. Finally, the family received help from a church member.

The Chicago city government and the capitalist billionaires it serves posture with fake humanitarian-sounding public pronouncements that immigrants are welcome in this city. But at the same time, they ensure that the massive public funding for desperately needed social services is channeled instead into their own pockets. The wealth exists to help everyone who needs it. This inhuman treatment is abominable.