March 16 is the date that any remaining migrants of the 13,000 staying in city-run shelters in Chicago will have to leave. It’s expected that almost all of them will be forced out due to dwindling city funds and a need to find space for more migrants who keep showing up in Chicago.
“I don’t have a job. My husband doesn’t have a job,” Maria Cinfuentes, a 30-year-old mother of three, told NBC News in Spanish. “I don’t know anyone here. How am I going to pay rent?”
Even if she can pay rent, many landlords in the city won’t rent to her. It’s nearly impossible for newcomers to get rental assistance or work permits. Landlords don’t want to be stuck holding the bag when the migrants can’t pay.
Mrs. Cinfuentes, along with many thousands of others, is going to have to go to the back of the line and reapply for shelter space. Many are not expected to be successful, which means sending them to live in the street in the middle of a Chicago winter.
About 7,000 people, roughly half of the migrants in shelters, do not have access to rental assistance because they arrived after the state cut the program, Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, said. That means that they are under even greater pressure to find work to be able to afford rent.
But migrants who arrived in Chicago and elsewhere after July 31 are not eligible for an extension of what’s known as “temporary protected status,” which offers temporary relief from deportation and the right to obtain work authorization.
Without that protection, most migrants who qualify have to wait about six months after filing their complete asylum applications before they can receive work permits.
I’m not blaming the migrants. They were sold a bill of goods by Joe Biden, who announced at the beginning of his presidency that there would be a new, welcoming attitude at the border. They were sold a bill of goods by mayors of “sanctuary cities” who found to their chagrin that the newcomers actually believed they’d be welcome, that they’d be given shelter, jobs, money, and live in an immigrant’s paradise.
The mayors who are trying to blame Texas Governor Greg Abbott are finding that it’s not working. What do you suppose Texas would look like if Abbott had kept those 125,000 migrants he sent along to sanctuary cities? The big city mayors in the North wanted the problem to stay in Texas and Arizona. And now that they have a taste of what Texas is going through, suddenly “sanctuary city” is a nightmare.
“If they don’t have work permits and they don’t have valid jobs, then they really can’t afford to live, to rent apartments,” Rev. Kenneth Phelps, who helps migrants find resources, said. “Even with rental assistance, they won’t be able to sustain it beyond that.”
What’s to be done? It would be hard for the mayors, but the solution is to buy the migrants plane fare and send them back. Failing that, Biden has to lead on this issue and get Congress to appropriate the assistance.
Yes, it would be hard. But presidents do hard stuff all the time. That’s what they’re paid the big bucks for. If Biden and the mayors don’t want to send these people home, they’re going to haver to take care of them.
They invited them. It’s time to put up or shut up.