A Chicago Plan from COAL
In a prior issue, COAL stated that we can all agree that after [six] months in Office, the Mayor should have laid out a plan or an approach to handling this migrant crisis and communicated said plan or approach to Chicagoans, via townhalls and/or fireside chats and/or leveraging major and community media outlets. COAL suggested components to include in a comprehensive plan.
COAL now submits another recommendation for the Johnson administration to consider. Please read on.
A Chicago Plan from COAL
We continue to be concerned about the coming and placement of immigrants to Chicago. A valid concern because of budget issues, housing limitations, employment needs, health challenges, language/communication problems, education needs and other concerns that our communities raise on a daily basis.
Our mayor goes to D.C., aldermen visit the border, aldermen have community meetings, church groups respond, our mayor announces a plan of placement in abandoned buildings, our police stations are crowded as temporary homes, and some churches offer meals, clothing and tents. A variety of responses from numbers of places but no long-term answers or a city-wide plan that speaks to the way Chicago will handle the migrant crisis. We are still awaiting a solid, comprehensive plan from the Mayor Johnson’s administration.
Let’s explore another suggestion. What about a housing plan that leverages college and university campuses throughout Chicago? These locations would immediately address the concerns of residents who have protested against housing migrants in residential areas and park facilities used for programs for our youth and the elderly. Leveraging college and university campuses could give opportunities for students to learn, faculty to teach and the skill sets of our possible new citizens to be identified. The migrants, potential permanent residents, could be taught English, be fed, receive health exams, receive job and/or skills training and have other needs determined. These schools have medical staff, nursing staff, food systems, legal support and assistance, psychological/mental health support and access to or partnerships with organizations that can meet many needs of this new population i.e., training, education, medical, law, faith, and language.
We are even told that some of the migrants seeking asylum are highly trained and were professionals, skilled laborers, teachers, etc. in their countries. Let’s do an inventory and use the skills among themselves or in places where we need them in our systems.
The money being given to an out-of-state business (a $40 million contract from the most recent reporting) could be distributed to our local colleges and universities to support and pay for these services, stipends to students, food services, medical testing and services, skill training classes, appropriate clothing, etc. The mayor has asked for a super large amount to provide these services—millions per month.
Chicago is known for its agencies and support services to new populations. We are the home of the work of Jane Addams and Ida B. Wells. Let’s get started. Let’s stop fighting. Let’s prove that we can be a sanctuary city that trains and creates opportunities for these migrants, as well as those of us who are already here. Let’s divide the money available for this process among our institutions creating jobs and new opportunities in our communities and institutions.
Concurrently, and importantly, the city must come to grips with its responsibility of dealing with its continued racial related discriminatory practices, past and present, and ignoring of the present problems of its black community in employment, health care, education, and housing as it deals with its new immigrant issues. The black community should accept nothing less and demand more. The mayor and leadership of Chicago must acknowledge both past problems and new challenges and develop a plan to deal with both.
COAL believes that the GAP in services and programs for blacks must be a high priority, even as this administration grapples with the ever growing migrant crisis.