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South Shore residents blow up plans to turn former school into refuge for immigrants: ‘We don’t want them in this building’

At Thursday’s chaotic meeting, South Shore residents called on city officials to house immigrants arriving in Chicago on the North Side rather than in the closed local schools, spending money to help them. He said the resources being used should be invested in the South Side instead.

Officials were ready to give a presentation on the shelter plan at a conference held at the South Shore International College Prep, but when it started it was drowned out by an audience chanting “we don’t care” . “We don’t want them here.”

Others shouted “send them back” and “close the borders”. Someone in the crowd held up a sign that read, “Build a wall in 2024.”

Audiences eager to hear about the city’s plans pleaded with the crowd to remain calm and respectful. He was released shortly after getting into an argument with the person who brought it.

A man holding a sign that says Build the Wall 2024 at a community meeting. He confronted someone holding a sign, tore it up, and was temporarily restrained. Residents say they are concerned about security around the school after asylum seekers are placed.

Tyler Paciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

South Shore International College Prep is located near the now closed South Shore High School at 7627 S. Constance Ave. This high school will be converted into a refuge for immigrants by the authorities.

The school will serve as their temporary residence while a more permanent shelter is being arranged. Authorities said 250 he to her 500 immigrants would be housed in the school at a time.

Residents who attended the meeting said they were concerned about safety around the school after immigrants were placed. a resident asked. Another asked, “Did you get a background check?” Others wanted to know how much trash had accumulated around the school and whether immigrants had been vaccinated.

Tina Skahill, executive director of the Chicago Police Department’s Constitutional Police and Reform Division, said the department plans to have officers patrol the location around the clock and increase camera surveillance.


Ride for Change Ride for Hope Foundation’s Terry Hardy spoke outside the former South Shore High School on Thursday afternoon.

Natalie Garcia/For the Sun Times

Representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Office of Emergency Communications, and the Office of Family Support Services were also present at the meeting.

Hours earlier, at a press conference outside a closed high school, some residents, who later attended the night’s meeting, urged the city to give the neighborhood more resources before “dumping” immigrants on their doorstep. requested to be assigned.

Residents say black townships like South Shore can use the money used to house immigrants to tackle chronic problems like homelessness and gun violence. They said asylum seekers should instead be placed in wealthier parts of the city.

“We don’t want them in this building. We can accommodate migrants on the north side. Try Lincoln Park,” said community organizer and South Shore resident Natasha Dunn. . “They’ve got so many developments there. Those skyscrapers aren’t even inhabited. They have access to resources. There’s jobs on their main street. Our community has I have no job and have been fighting for it for decades.So tell me how this fair is going.”

Another South Shore resident, Rosita Chatonda, said the city should hand over the building to the community so it can be used to improve the quality of life for the region’s youth.


George Blakemore lives on the South Shore outside the closed South Shore High School. Residents said the previous city hall administration had promised to use the school as an incubator for his business, hydroponics, or as an art school for children.

Natalie Garcia/For the Sun Times

She said local community leaders had discussed plans for the building with the former mayor’s administration.

“As promised, we have the right to access this building as a community hub,” said Chatonda. “This is why the children here are suffering from violence. We can’t let go of the building, we empathize with those who come here, but we have to look after ourselves.”

Residents said they hoped mayor-elect Brandon Johnson would kick them out of the building if asylum seekers moved into the school.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office was also criticized by Woodlawn residents earlier this year when a closed school in Woodlawn was converted into a shelter for immigrants.Several people tried to block a bus carrying immigrants To the school when it opened.

South Shore High School graduate Terry Hardy said he wouldn’t be surprised if residents tried to block the buses again.

“It can happen,” Hardy said. “It’s not what we want, but if that’s what we need to do, we might be heading in that direction.”

about a week ago city ​​council committee The city said it lacked the funds, space and time to handle the flow of asylum seekers to Chicago since August.

many people had to spend A few nights on the police station floor while they wait for their beds in the shelter.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/5/4/23711988/south-shore-residents-migrants-asylum-immigration-plan-former-high-school-shelter-migrants South Shore residents blow up plans to turn former school into refuge for immigrants: ‘We don’t want them in this building’

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