Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to center his campaign on immigration
More than 1,000 refugees have arrived in Chicago after being bussed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as of last month. There has been a huge care response in Chicago for these individuals coming from the state officials, citizens and nonprofit organizations who are working hands-on with the migrants coming into the city. This is not to say that there has not been a serious strain on resources with the limitation of housing available and how long they are able to stay there.
Illinois Coalition of Immigrant Rights (ICCIR) is one of the main nonprofit organizations that has worked first-hand with the immigrants coming into the city and is partnered with over 100 organizations in Illinois. They have been working together to provide migrants with resources since the first bus arrived in Chicago at Union Station. Since then, the organization has been in rapid response mode providing migrants with transportation to get to the suburbs, housing, healthcare and food.
Jocelyn Aranda-Ortiz, who is the Family Support Network (FSN) coordinator for ICCIR, has worked directly with the placement of migrants who are being sent to the suburbs to stay in hotels. Ortiz also has had to help families stay together as she helps provide asylum seekers with housing. This task has been no easy feat, although she expressed her passion on the subject of immigration and maintained that migrants should be treated with immense care, as many have faced a lot of trauma.
“One of our main concerns is the job market, and people are already eager to hire asylum seekers,” Aranda-Ortiz said. “This can be a very good thing, but our main worry is that these individuals who don’t speak a lot of English and who are new to the city will be taken advantage of, which can lead to exploitation,” she said.
Ortiz said the migrants seeking resources have already been cast aside by Gov. Greg Abbott and that she believes they have already been exploited as a political point for the upcoming gubernatorial elections.
She explained how much of a push back Abbott should receive as a response to the mishandling of the migrants being sent to only blue states. “I think this situation was rooted in racism and capitalism,” she said.
Brandon Lee, the director of communications at ICIRR, helps mobilize members within the organization to help out at the hotels in the suburbs and at the local shelters. He emphasized their mission, which is, “to fight for people to be treated with dignity and respect.”
This mission to Lee means more than just fighting for immigrants to be treated fairly but to have each individual recognized for the hardships they have faced. “This circumstance will bring new challenges, but regardless of how long an immigrant has been here, they deserve to have their journeys recognized,” he said.
It has been a tight race in Texas between Republican candidate Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, with Abbott having only a four-point edge according to the most recent Marist Texas poll conducted in October. However, the poll also showed that out of all likely voters, Abbott’s lead doubled to eight points. The issue of immigration has been a major source of contention between the two candidates and the center of Abbott’s campaign. The result of the busing of migrants by Abbott has influenced his campaign in that he has gained support, with a poll done by the Texas Politics Project showing that 52% of Texas voters support the action.
Gavin Rudman, an alumnus from Southern Methodist University, currently works in politics in D.C. and has seen how the situation with migrants is being dealt with on both sides. He agrees that Gov. Greg Abbott has been using the migrants as a political ploy to gain more Texas voters.
“From the way I imagine his mind working is that these Democratic governors need to deal with the effects of their own policies,” Rudman said about why Abbott sent migrants to Chicago, D.C., and New York City. “I think everyone would agree this is a publicity stunt to garner attention.”
Attention or not, this action has greatly impacted citizens of the Chicago area who are also responders to the busing of migrants as many are being taken to areas within the suburbs.
Brigid O’Brien, a DePaul University sophomore from Elmhurst, Illinois, has spent her free time as a political activist of many causes: climate change, abortion and immigrant rights. She believes more Chicago citizens should stand up for these migrants who are lacking resources.
“I think it is crucial for citizens to step up and volunteer or donate to migrants coming in when these nonprofit organizations have limited federal spending,” O’Brien said. “I also think political leaders need to be taking more action in funding resources rather than mainly advertising for donation websites.”
There are many ways for the citizens of Chicago to help migrants who have been bussed from Texas. One main way is by signing up to volunteer with a reputable nonprofit organization, ICCIR being one of many. Their website requires volunteers to come by their office or reach out by email. The city of Chicago has also put a website up seeking donations and volunteers from both city and state residents.
Header Illustration by Julia Hester