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Friday, September 22, 2023 12:19AM
CHICAGO — Chicago says it gets very little notice, or no notice at all, that busloads of migrants are heading here. However, they need to care for them once they arrive.
The city’s emergency center, the OEMC, is sometimes alerted that migrants are on the move. They aren’t notified by FEMA, the U.S. Border Patrol or even the governor of Texas. If they are lucky, Chicago City Hall is notified by the bus companies carrying the migrants.
There is no coordinated schedule of when buses filled with migrants will arrive in Chicago.
“We’re obviously doing rapid response and trying to house folks, and make sure that they are not on the street, and they are fed, and they have a path to resettlement and self-sufficiency. But we also know that we can’t control flow,” said Cristina Pacione-Zayas, First Deputy Chief of Staff for the City of Chicago.
Sometimes notice of new arrivals comes in an unexpected way.
“The alders now get alerts when buses come in, you know, it comes right to my Apple Watch, and I know a bus is landing. Because we don’t get much notice. We’re lucky if we get more than 24 hours. We’re lucky if we get a manifest.” said Pacione-Zayas.
When the city does get the heads up, it’s not from the government.
“The alerts are from our Emergency Operations Center, which is an arm of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. They have received Intel and literally this intel is coming from the bus companies,” said Pacione-Zayas. “We have forged relationships with the bus companies where they let us know. Not the government, not the state government, not the local, but that’s literally them sleuthing for information, and then transmitting it to members of the administration.”
More help from the state and federal government is needed immediately, according to Chicago officials managing the crisis.
“I think when people start to recognize that not only are we getting buses in multiples, we can’t get in front of opening up enough spaces,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I think it then starts to create some awareness of just how urgent the matter is.”