Responding to the immigration Crisis in Chicago
Their journey started at home in Venezuela. There, they made their way from persecution (some religious, some political) to the US/Mexico Border. From there, their journeys took them from Texas, to Colorado, to Chicago. At no point did they understand where they were going or what was going to happen to them when they arrived at their final destinations. All they have is what they carried out of their country. Many of the children arrive not wearing shoes, others come with only the “shirts on their backs.”
When these families reached Chicago they were met with more confusing circumstances. The shelters were full, there was no where to go, it would take over 7 days before some place opened in the city where they could be sent. There was no place to sleep but the lobbies of the police stations. 25-30 people, huddled together on the cold tiles of the police stations each night for over 7-9 days.
After those 7-9 days, these people were moved to different locations throughout the city. One location the families were being moved to was a building designed as a “break room” for the city’s lifeguards in the summer. There is no air conditioning, no fridge, and no beds- yet over 100 people are now temporarily staying there. Once they get there, we no longer have access to assist with their needs (based on restrictions that are out of our control).
The Family Empowerment Centers has opened our facilities to these families. We are working with our local law enforcement and government to assist where and when we can. We are open to these families each day from 8AM-1PM helping serve as a refuge and place where these beautiful image-bearers of God can receive a warm shower, clothes and shoes, personal hygiene products, lunch, and prayer.
Although the situation at the Border is beginning to settle, there are still families coming in. Several days ago we were serving 25 people and asked one of the women how many others were at the police station. She told us an addition 30 had come in that day.
Once these families move into the shelters we can no longer assist them, but we are doing the best we can with the time we do have. Several families we have assisted have joined Redemption Church’s Sunday services and plan on continuing to come for as long as they are in our area.
Just the other day, a group offered to make us traditional “sopa” or soup. They were truly blessed to be able to serve us as they know how much we have been serving them.