Black residents sue Chicago officials over plan to house illegal immigrants ‘without our permission’

A group of black Chicago residents filed a lawsuit last week seeking a restraining order against a city plan to house migrants at a local former high school.

“The South Shore community is a community that has been predominantly comprised of the descendants of once enslaved African Americans,” J. Darnell Jones, one of the plaintiffs, said at a news conference Thursday outside the affected high school, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

“The same federally backed tactics that proved detrimental to thriving black communities of the past under the guise of eminent domain are being used to house asylum seekers in the heart of our community without our permission, nor our agreement,” he continued.

Listen to more of what Jones had to say below:

“Politically, having over 500 people in our community will completely wipe out any interest we have. Are you aware that there are immigrant advocates at state houses all over this country who are advocating for non-citizen voting in local elections? What if that happened here?” he said in the clip above.

“That would change the mindset of what we, as the black community, need to thrive here in Chicago. That’s a concern of ours. This is much bigger than the mayor of Chicago or the Chicago Police Department. This is an effort to destroy our neighborhoods and silence our voices even further,” he added.

Also speaking at the briefing, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Frank Avila, noted that the city is spending way too much money to house the migrants when it could be using that money to take care of its local citizens.

“There are people leaving the city of Chicago and businesses leaving the city of Chicago — we cannot afford to have $51 million spent,” he said, referencing $51 million that the City Council reportedly just approved to take care of migrants.

“That doesn’t mean that no money should be spent. But $7,000 per person per month is excessive,” Avila added.

Meanwhile, Craig Carrington, a community court case manager for a restorative justice program, revealed that one of his clients was, after getting on a housing waiting list, told that migrants were being prioritized over locals.

“That’s a story that a lot of people don’t know. And it hurt me. I understand we need to be humanitarian. But these people, my participants, are third and fourth-generation Chicagoans. Born, bred, fed and raised here,” he said.

Dovetailing back to Jones’ remarks, he at one point argued that other Chicago neighborhoods are better equipped to handle the migrants than South Shore.

“The very first question I had here now and I had last week is: Why not Pilsen, Belmont Cragin, Logan Square, Little Village, South Chicago, South Deering or Hegewisch?” he said.

“(These are) communities that have a supportive cultural infrastructure and potentially more resources to support someone new to the country and the surrounding community,” he added.

As for the lawsuit, it “says that in March 2019 the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance establishing a lease agreement between the city as a tenant and the Chicago Board of Education of the City of Chicago as a landlord,” and that the “lease authorized the city’s use of the former school for the Chicago police and fire departments,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The purpose of this lease was to allocate the building specifically for the use of these departments. Therefore, any action that deviates from this intended purpose, such as transforming the building into a refugee shelter, would be in violation of the lease agreement,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit also raises safety concerns.

It reportedly says that although city officials have set in place rules for the migrants who are to be housed at the school, “no provisions have been established regarding expectations for their conduct within the surrounding residential area.”

“This lack of clarity poses a potential threat to the safety, property and overall well-being” of locals, the suit reads.

Likewise, Avila argued during Thursday’s hearing that local crime rates pose a similar threat to the migrants.

“If we’re talking about migrants and asylum-seekers that came from violent nations, that came from war, that came from poverty, why are we putting them in an area where they could be further traumatized, in high-crime areas?” he said.

“You’re putting them in areas where there is a different culture, a different language and they also are in an area of high crime, so we’re further traumatizing them, those who may have PTSD or other issues.”


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