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A man and children watch videos on their smart phone while taking shelter outside of the Near West 12th police precinct Aug. 29, 2023. Credit: Jim Vondruska for Ecoglobalsociety

CHICAGO — Migrant families with children enrolled in Chicago Public Schools must start leaving city-run shelters now that school is not in session. About 121 people will leave over the next week, city officials confirmed.

Mayor Brandon Johnson announced a 60-day shelter stay limit for new arrivals in November in an attempt to accelerate resettlement for asylum seekers. The policy has drawn sharp criticism from elected officials and mutual aid groups, and evictions were repeatedly pushed back.

Asylum seekers with children enrolled in CPS schools were exempt from the policy during the academic year. CPS classes ended Friday, so 121 asylum seekers will be asked to leave starting this week through June 18, city officials said.

WTTW's Heather Cherone reported the news first, saying evictions for those families would start Tuesday.

Some families who had CPS exemptions but entered the shelter system later in the school year will be asked to leave next month, officials said.

“Shelter exit dates are staggered according to when individuals entered,” said mayoral spokesman Cassio Mendoza. “Because folks entered at different times, there's folks who still have 30 days or more.”

FROM THE WATCH

Immigration advocates and volunteers long have criticized the city's shelter eviction plan, saying it risks pushing people into homelessness.

As of Friday, 55 percent of more than 900 asylum seekers evicted from city-run shelters returned to them because they had nowhere else to go, WTTW reported.

There were 6,937 people seeking asylum living in city run shelters, 20 people awaiting placement and seven people living in a police station as of Friday, according to city data.

Chicago has received an estimated 43,058 total new arrivals since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other border-state politicians began busing them to Chicago in August 2022, in protest of federal immigration policies.

The majority of the asylum seekers are from Venezuela, which has struggled with political upheaval and an economic crisis resulting in severe food and medicine shortages, surging inflation, rising unemployment and violent crime.

After repeated postponements, the city began its first shelter evictions in March, exempting families with children under 18 and people in medial isolation.

Families with children who couldn't get state funding for rental assistance were given a 30-day shelter stay extension, renewable up to three times, until June 10, city officials said. That rule impacted about 4,500 people due to leave shelters in March, April and May.

People evicted from the shelters can return to the city’s landing zone — the drop-off point for migrants — and ask for shelter space again, if needed. They will need to find their own means of transportation to the landing zone if they want to request shelter again, officials have said.

City officials have said the shelter time limits will come with ramped-up case management and resettlement efforts in each shelter. Legal assistance, help finding housing, school enrollment and other services would still be available to asylum seekers who have yet to enter the city’s shelter system, city officials have said.

Immigration advocates and alderpeople have questioned how effective programs are to help asylum seekers. Migrants face long backlogs to secure work permits, making it harder to make a stable living on their own. Volunteers also have criticized a state rental assistance program for migrants for cutting off support too early.


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