Title 42 border policies are set to expire Thursday as Chicago volunteers step up to help migrants

CHICAGO (WLS) — People in Chicago moved to help as thousands of migrants made their way to the city.

The United States is preparing to accept more migrants starting Thursday as Title 42 ends Thursday night.

Pandemic-era policies allow the US to turn away migrants, citing fears of COVID.

Chicago is already struggling to accommodate migrants bused here from Texas, and officials hope to see more arrivals after Title 42 ends.

But the question remains how many more will come, when, and how long they will seek refuge in the city.

The owner of the Pilsen building stepped in when the CPD station ran out of space for migrants in Chicago

Volunteer coordinator Veronica Saldana with the Pilsen Food Pantry delivered diapers and other essential items early Thursday to a shelter in Pilsen housing housing nearly 70 migrants.

“There's just a constant stream of people wanting to help,” says Saldana. “Especially at this time they need air mattresses, blankets.”

READ MORE: South Shore residents sue city over plans for migrant break centres

Dulce Garduno volunteers at the Pilsen shelter. The building was donated by a local business owner after the District 12 Police Station had to evict several asylum seekers.

Garduno has translated for many migrants here and is listening.

“I came here to talk to them to listen to them but not just to hear their stories, you know you are here, you are welcome,” said Garduno.

Contractor Pawel Miesiarczyk and his team built a special shower for migrants in just 24 hours. He said he was putting all his other projects on hold.

Mayor Lightfoot issued an emergency declaration in response to Chicago's surge in migrants

“Currently, we will shower four times. Be ready for one more if more people come,” he said. “What a feeling. Being a Chicgaoan makes you feel good.”

In another part of the warehouse, Mark Nava works in his makeshift barbershop, giving free haircuts to some of the youngest migrants while University of Illinois family physician Dr. Evelyn Figueroa took a break from a busy clinic day to stop by the shelter to offer a checkup.

“We really need to do a lot of preventive medicine, so we need to do things related to vaccinations, screening people for TB,” he said. “Chicago is a city built on the shoulders of immigrants and with the labor of immigrants. We want to see people succeed.”

Byron Sigcho-Lopez's 25th Ward Alderman has been coordinating this community's efforts in Pilsen, as pandemic-era Title 42 immigration restrictions end Thursday night, meaning migrant numbers are expected to soar.

“We see clearly about the challenges we may face in the days and weeks ahead,” said US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mayor Lightfoot has declared a state of emergency with city-run shelters full and resources scarce as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive in Chicago day after day.

Plus, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson was in Washington, DC Wednesday meeting with top White House officials along with Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. He asked for federal assistance.

Many City Council members say the federal, state, and corporate governments need to step up. They say there is not enough money to overcome the crisis.

In Pilsen, volunteers are bracing for a possible influx of asylum seekers.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said they now have 50 volunteers at the Pilsen shelter.