As temperatures fell across Chicagoland this week and snow fell Tuesday, Oak Park officials announced that the village has helped over 100 migrants housed in camping-style tents outside a nearby Chicago police station to secure indoor shelter.
"The Village of Oak Park, under the authority of Village Manager Kevin J. Jackson, activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Wed., Nov. 1, putting in place established protocols in response to the evolving crisis involving asylum-seeking migrants and families in the community,' village officials stated in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon.
- Chicago Mayor: Moving Migrants from Police Stations 'Top Priority'
- Mayor to Move Migrants Out of Chicago Police Stations
The move comes amid increased urging from some residents for Oak Park village leaders to do more for migrants housed in tents at the 15th District Chicago Police Department station on Madison Street, right at the village's border with Chicago's Austin neighborhood and less than a mile from Oak Park Village Hall.
According to the release, around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, as snow flurries fell across the region, the Oak Park Police Department received a phone call from someone looking to help asylum-seeking migrant families that were based at the Chicago police station and seeking indoor shelter.
The person, identified in the release as a "volunteer," said she was part of a group that provided tents to migrant families.
"Due to the frigid overnight temperatures, they feared that these families were facing extreme risk due to the cold. Approximately 26 families were seeking indoor shelter due to the weather because the lobby at the 15th District was at capacity," according to the release.
Oak Park Police Department staff readied to open the doors of the village's police station to "accommodate a very limited number of people and their personal belongings due to size constraints within the facility," the release states.
The unnamed volunteer and affiliate group began to transport the migrants — many of whom trekked from their native Venezuela to the southern U.S. border with Mexico and into Texas only to be bused from there to Chicago — to the small space at the Oak Park police station.
A number of asylum-seekers have reported not being familiar with Chicago's cold fall and winter temperatures or ever experiencing snow. They don't have the proper clothes or footwear for the weather, including no coats, hats or gloves. In recent days, though, there have been donations of winterwear for them.
Officials stated in the Oak Park release that as the migrants were being moved from the 15th District in Chicago to the village police station, Oak Park staff were simultaneously working to identify "viable solutions for (overnight) shelter."
"Families were initially assisted and taken to safe indoor locations with the majority being taken in temporarily overnight at a local church," the release states.
Before dawn Wednesday, the last of the families was moved from the Oak Park police station to an overnight shelter, according to the release. Approximately 102 people were accommodated as part of the effort.
Officials explained that the assistance is, so far, temporary but a broader emergency response plan "to this situation is in development."
(c)2023 Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.)
Visit Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.) at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.