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Volunteer groups overwhelmed as record number of migrants arrive in Chicago in one day

Record number of migrant arrivals in Chicago this weekend
Record number of migrant arrivals in Chicago this weekend 02:31

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (CBS) -- Concern is growing among volunteer groups on the frontlines of the city's ongoing migrant crisis.

Insiders say several buses carrying asylum seekers arrived in Chicago this weekend – the most significant number of arrivals for one day.

As CBS 2's Andrew Ramos reported Sunday, volunteer groups in the city and surrounding areas are scrambling to keep up.

For more than a year now, the effort to help asylum seekers has been a joint effort with agencies in Chicago - as well as churches and groups in the surrounding areas.

Volunteer groups across the board are overwhelmed - low on resources and just trying to keep up with demand as the flow of migrants shows no signs of slowing down.

As many as five buses of migrants reportedly arrived in Chicago late Saturday. Some volunteer groups working directly with the city received notice just hours earlier.

It was unclear late Sunday how many arrived and where they were taken.

"We don't know where they are going. We don't know where they're going to end up," said Erika Villegas of the Police Station Response Team, "and so everyone's kind of scrambling."

Villegas, a lead volunteer with the response team, has worked vigorously with arriving migrants at police districts on the South Side.

Villegas says the lack of communication on the ground adds to the frustration. Many of the volunteers have been blindsided by new arrivals this weekend.

"We get families that arrive at all different times - middle of the night, mornings, evenings - without any notification," Villegas said, "and then we figure things out because there's no other way because there is such a lack of communication from the city."

With this influx of migrants, the big concern is winter.

"We're going to have a lot more medical needs, and so that's worrisome - because we, as volunteers, are paying for most of the medical needs out of pocket," Villegas said.

Volunteer groups overwhelmed with migrant crisis growing 02:06

Other community groups also say they plan to forge ahead despite all the progress and obstacles. East Chicago Church in East Chicago, Indiana, is one of those organizations that has stepped up to help in the crisis.

"I believe just all the not-for-profits, churches, any resource – you know, we love feeding people. Why not do it? You know, all the ministers come together," said East Chicago Church Pastor Manuel Corazzari.

This happens in what has been a busy week for the city of Chicago as officials navigate the migrant crisis. CBS 2 learned about Mayor Brandon Johnson's plan to create migrant base camps that are expected to go up across the city.

On the national level, the Biden administration also announced that it will now issue temporary protected status to Venezuelans who arrived before July 31 - giving them a pathway to work legally, which many would say will alleviate pressure on the city.

CBS 2 contacted the city to get the exact number of migrants arriving in Chicago this weekend but did not hear back.

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