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Shelters are full after thousands of migrants are sent to Chicago from Texas

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Chicago says it has received 13,000 migrants since Texas and others began bussing them to blue cities last year. The city's shelters are full. Many are sleeping at police stations, and when those fill up, they sleep outside. Recently, the city cleared out two stations where there were reports of sexual misconduct against migrants, now those stations are housing migrants again. We have details from Michael Loria, who reported the story for the Chicago Sun-Times. Michael, what's known about the allegations of misconduct? Hello, Michael?

All right. We're going to try and get back with Michael Loria of the Chicago Sun-Times coming up in just a bit. He's going to tell us a story about migrants in two Chicago police stations that have been really loading up those stations and trying to figure out a way to house them in a more humane way. And there're also allegations of sexual misconduct against those migrants. I think we got Michael back. Michael, are you there?

MICHAEL LORIA: Yes, I am here now.

MARTÍNEZ: Thanks, Michael. So what do we know about the allegations of misconduct against police officers on the migrants?

LORIA: Yeah, so those came out in early July. And it was a couple of allegations of sexual misconduct about some officers and migrants staying at a west side police station. That pretty quickly caused a lot of - I guess, a lot of attention over there in the city at that time. And soon afterwards, the stations were cleared out. And then a little while after that, allegations also came out at a north side police station, which led to those stations being cleared out. Since then, however, there haven't really been many updates at the end of July because of the amount of intense media attention at the matter. The city's police accountability office released a sort of unprecedented update saying that they had not found any victims in the investigation. But since then, they say that the investigation is ongoing, but they don't have any further updates.

MARTÍNEZ: Is that why they're putting the migrants back into those stations?

LORIA: That's basically it, yeah. So since then, the city has also received a lot more people. I mean, I think - that was early July, and I think since mid-July or in the past month, basically, there have been a doubling of the number of people staying at police stations. And also, at Midway and O'Hare, that's gone from around 700 to a little over 1,400 in that time. So that's meant that at some of those stations, they've been severely overcrowded. You know, folks who are arriving there are, like, basically sleeping one after another inside of the station. And the folks that are the latest to arrive are having to sleep outside. So at some of those stations, we've had - you know, it's over a hundred people inside. So this was kind of expected to - people expected them to begin using these stations again, but yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: And briefly, Michael, what kind of support do they get from the city and from volunteers?

LORIA: So the city actually doesn't do a whole lot at the police stations itself. They rely on a lot of different volunteers to be taking care of the police stations. That includes for donations for food, clothing and medical supplies as well.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Michael Loria, staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. Michael, thanks.

LORIA: Yep. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF AGNES OBEL SONG, "IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Corrected: August 27, 2023 at 9:00 PM PDT
In this report, we incorrectly say that there are allegations of sexual misconduct against migrants housed in Chicago police stations. In fact, the charges have been filed against Chicago police officers for sexual misconduct against least one migrant housed in one police station.