Chicago: Welcome migrant children

Chicago: Welcome migrant children
Image: PV Bella

Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to offer shelter to 1000 migrant children who crossed the southern border of the United States.

Many, including the mayor, are calling this massive migration a humanitarian crisis.

A Chicago Tribune editorial on Thursday opined our city should assist in providing temporary shelter and succor to these migrant children.

Mayor speaking at the parade reviewing stand. (Peter V. Bella)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to shelter migrant children from the southern border. (Peter V. Bella)

Chicago's mayor and Chicago's newspaper are right. Chicago is a city of big shoulders, big hearts, and big humanity.

Chicago history reflects our open arms, open hearts, and helping hands.

Just prior to the Civil War Chicago was considered America's City and the most American of cities. It was a "world class" city of commerce and industry long before that term was coined.

When fire swept through and destroyed Chicago in 1871, the city received aid from all over the world.

We have paid the world back in spades and keep doing so. Chicago is a city of humanity.

After World War II, millions of displaced persons came to America to escape the ravages of post war Europe.

Many flocked to Chicago. We took them in, gave them shelter, and they became productive citizens.

Unfortunately, there are those who see differently. People who commented on the Tribune articles demonstrated hatred and ignorance.

One comment even claimed the Tribune was guilty of treason. This person must be one of those who believe President Obama was born in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

Others screeched about the word "illegal" or referred to the young people as criminals.

Paraphrasing Bob Dylan's song, Idiot Wind,"You're an idiot people, It's a wonder you still know how to breathe".

Unlike other nations, America never had a real, consistent, comprehensive, strict immigration policy. Our borders were never secured against illegal immigration.

What policies are in place and their enforcement are fluid and flexible. It has always been this way.

During the 19th through the mid-20th Centuries, it is a good bet many of our ancestors came here illegally or quasi-legally and straightened out their status later.

Something else for the Know Nothings to consider. Mexico and the Central American countries, where these children are from, do not want them back. That is the reason they deplore deportation, contrary to their talking points. Deporting these young people may cause a larger humanitarian crisis.

Not one of those countries is known for protecting human rights.

There is one problem with the mayor's plan. It is not comprehensive enough. According to the Tribune, the process for adjudicating the status of these young people is long.

The mayor wants the legal community to offer pro bono services to the migrants. The medical community should pitch in in too, offering pro bono medical examinations.

The mayor shuttered schools, which are now vacant. Those with shower facilities can be retrofitted into settlement houses. Offices for lawyers, doctors, immigration personnel, and social service agencies could be provided.

They could be one stop centers to house and assist the migrant children until their cases are adjudicated.

Classrooms can be used to provide classes in English and other activities. Gyms, pools, and adjoining fields could be used for sports programs to keep them occupied and out of trouble.

The schools have cafeterias. The institutional food companies who have contracts with CPS could be tapped to provide food at cost to feed the migrant children.

Retailers could be asked to provide basic goods like clothing and toiletries.

Even us mere citizens probably have unused stuff laying around our homes that can be provided.

This is not a Democrat, Republican, conservative, or liberal issue. This is not a legal issue.

This is a humanitarian issue. Doing nothing is not an option.

Chicago is doing the right thing. Rendering aid to the vulnerable. It is what we do best, better than anyplace else in America.

Chicagoans never turned their backs on those in crisis. We reached out and gave them a hand up.

Chicago can absorb these young people for a while. It would not be a burden. It should be a point of civic pride.

Chicago should welcome these migrant children and treat them with dignity until their cases are resolved.

It is the right way.

It is the humane way.

It is the Chicago way.

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