South Shore residents angry about migrant shelter would make MAGA proud

The community meeting where people shouted ‘We don’t want them here’ and one person held up a ‘Build the Wall’ sign was a pathetic and embarrassing display of NIMBYism in a city that prides itself on its racial and ethnic diversity.

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A man holds a sign reading Build the Wall 2024 at the community meeting.

A man hoists up a “BUILD THE WALL 2024” sign during a community meeting at South Shore International College Prep High School over housing asylum seekers at school.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago has been designated as a “welcoming city” for desperate people from all corners of the world trying to escape persecution and threats to build a better life in America.

No Chicagoan, no matter what part of town they live in, can forget that, even as the city struggles to find shelter for the influx of migrants being sent here by Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has no qualms about using human beings as political pawns.

We as residents have to be better than that. But some in South Shore were not last week, when they shamefully emulated Abbott’s wanton callousness in protesting the planned use of a shuttered school to house migrants.

“We don’t care.” “We don’t want them here.” “Send them back.” “Close the border.” Those were among the ugly jeers that dominated the meeting at South Shore International College Prep, as the Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo reported.



What a pathetic and embarrassing display of NIMBYism, sounding much like an ugly “America First” rally for Donald Trump. One man even held a sign that read “Build the wall 2024.” That image alone is certain to put a smug smile on the faces of many MAGA types.

The South Side has suffered from decades of neglect. There is no argument on that. But the entire city is scrambling right now to find space to temporarily house the thousands of immigrants arriving here. This is not a time for “whataboutism.”

South Shore High School is empty at the moment, so demanding that migrants to be sent to the North Side instead — where many of the alternate shelters are already located — is unreasonable.

Those who want the school, at 7627 S. Constance Ave., to be turned into a community center have a point, but that won’t happen overnight in any case. The building can still be used for the neighborhood once permanent shelter is found for the migrants.

As for those complaining that too much attention and resources are being diverted to the migrants — well, living and sleeping in a police station, or any facility not built for residential use, is hardly an enviable, five-star experience.

America as a nation has to resolve the immigration crisis at our southern border. It shouldn’t just be up to big cities — or frankly, Texas — to take in desperate asylum-seekers.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s welcome mat, no matter how tattered, remains. Yanking it away isn’t an option if we want to uphold our values.

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