Hundreds of Brighton Park residents marched against the Johnson Administration’s plans to erect a tent encampment for as many as 2,000 migrants at 38th and California. --Supplied photo

Hundreds of Brighton Park residents marched against the Johnson Administration’s plans to erect a tent encampment for as many as 2,000 migrants at 38th and California. --Supplied photo

Hundreds march against migrant plans

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Rip Johnson, Ramirez over tent encampment

By Tim Hadac

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Marchers appeared to be predominantly immigrants or children of immigrants—based upon how they identified themselves to reporters who asked. They carried signs in several languages. –Supplied photo

Hundreds of Brighton Park residents—most either immigrants or children of immigrants—took to the streets last week to rip Mayor Brandon Johnson, as well as 12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez, over plans to erect a tent encampment for as many as 2,000 migrants on a vacant parcel of land at 38th and California.

“We’re not taking this sitting down, obviously,” said Violeta Castro, as she marched on Archer Avenue on Friday, Nov. 10 with as many as 300 others. “These migrants are being forced down the community’s throat—no notice to us, no respect for us, no asking our opinions ahead of time, nothing.

“Some say, it’s all a done deal and it’s too late,” she continued. “I disagree. I think if we put enough pressure on the mayor, maybe he’ll think twice and back off. Maybe he’ll find some other place, a better place, a safer place to put them.”

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Some marchers vented their anger against Mayor Brandon Johnson, others against 12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez at her neighborhood office. –Supplied photo

Marching with her was her neighbor, Inez Cisneros, who pointed out that the migrants—the overwhelming majority of whom are from Venezuela—will not fare well this winter.

“The coldest month of the year in Caracas (capital city of Venezuela) is January, where the average temperature is 72 degrees,” she told the Greater Southwest News-Herald. “How are they going to survive January in Chicago, when there’s three feet of snow on the ground and it’s zero degrees outside?”

Marcher Jennie Chou expressed her concerns in dollars and cents.

“What will this cost the taxpayers when the migrants [who will be housed at 38th and California] file a class-action lawsuit because the mayor put them up in a tent on land that may be polluted from years of industrial use?” she asked. “You know the personal-injury lawyers are circling this like sharks.”

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Ald. Ramirez has been a major target of residents’ ire. –Supplied photo

Another marcher who asked that her name be withheld said she is worried about the encampment’s effect on property values.

“I live two blocks away [from the encampment], and I’ve been there almost 20 years,” she said. “But I just put it up for sale. I want to sell it now, before these ‘temporary’ tents—which I assure you will be here for several years, at least—turn the neighborhood upside down with crime. It will be everything from panhandling to prostitution to robbery, and you know that will make our homes’ values fall, a lot.”

Fueling the anger of many in the crowd was news that the Johnson Administration has already signed a six-month contract for nearly $550,000 in tax dollars to rent the site from a south suburban company owned by a man who made a campaign contribution to Johnson back in August. The contribution, exposed by a downtown daily newspaper, has since been returned.

To date, more than 20,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago—most by bus but others via passenger jets—with thousands more on the way.

Through the current situation, Ramirez has pled ignorance, that the Johnson Administration has kept her in the dark about the plans for 38th and California.

Some marchers bought her explanation. Others did not and protested outside her ward office.

“I don’t see how she could have been unaware,” said Ming-Yue. “Is she the alderwoman of this ward or not? It’s her job to know such things…either she’s lying when she says [she was unaware] or she’s not competent. I know there’s no [aldermanic] election until 2027, but she needs to know we will remember this. This will come back to haunt her. Actions have consequences.”

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Hundreds of Brighton Park residents marched against the Johnson Administration’s plans to erect a tent encampment for as many as 2,000 migrants at 38th and California. –Supplied photo

1 Comment

  1. DonReg on November 19, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    Instead of protesting they should be working on getting an immigration bill through Congress with funding for the undocumented and newly arrived migrants. The Democratic’s hold a majority in the Senate and have a good amount in the House, now is the time to organize and March for Immigration reform.



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