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Afternoon Edition: May 19, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Berto Aguayo, right, with Increase the Peace helps sign up street vendors in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood to provide a small grant to mostly undocumented workers and their businesses.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

More rain is in the forecast for this afternoon. Other than that, it’ll be cloudy with a high near 60 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 53 degrees. Tomorrow, we finally get a little sun, and the high will be near 65 degrees.

Top story

Community groups work to put cash in the hands of undocumented immigrants

Because Congress has yet to make undocumented immigrants eligible for coronavirus stimulus checks, grassroots community groups in Chicago are rushing to put cash in the hands of those workers and their families, especially those who’ve been out of work for months and depend on daily wages to survive.

Together those groups have raised close to a quarter of a million dollars so far — a welcome sign of solidarity with Chicago’s undocumented community, they say — but they’re overwhelmed by the demand for help. An estimated 300,000 immigrants in Cook County don’t have the proper authorization to live in the United States.

“We closed our applications in two days because more than 2,500 people had already applied,” said Antonio Santos, director of the Gage Park Latinx Council, which is collecting online donations to give undocumented immigrants on the Southwest Side a $500 grant. The council has raised more than $58,000, which means the group can only help about 120 families.

“We know this isn’t sustainable,” Santos said, “but we have to keep doing it, because no one else is looking out for our community.”

We’re making our vital coronavirus coverage free for all readers. See the latest news here.

In late March — the same day President Trump signed the CARES Act, which excluded undocumented immigrants from getting stimulus checks — the city of Chicago announced it would give 2,000 residents $1,000 to help pay their rent or mortgage. The application was open to all Chicagoans, regardless of their immigration status. Around 83,000 residents applied for the grants, and the city picked the winners by lottery.

But community groups say a lottery system ignores the disparate hardships facing different households. And with only a limited amount of funds to hand out, those groups have to choose who gets the money and who doesn’t. Having to make that choice is “heartbreaking,” said artist Victor Arroyo, who put together an online raffle to raise money for undocumented immigrants and their families. He’s focusing his efforts on helping single parents and the elderly.

There’s hope that at least some undocumented immigrants might get help from the federal government soon. Last week, Democrats pushed through the HEROES Act in the House of Representatives, which makes undocumented immigrants who file federal taxes eligible for stimulus checks. But the likelihood of that happening is unclear; the bill has to first make its way through the Republican-led Senate and then be signed by Trump.

Arroyo said he isn’t holding his breath: “We’re all stepping up in the best way that we can. We’re not waiting,” Arroyo said. “All of us are taking initiative to help our communities, to help our people.”

Read the full story from Carlos Ballesteros.

More news you need

  1. Two firefighters were hurt and dozens of residents were displaced this morning in a fire that engulfed at least two buildings for almost three hours in Gresham. Photos from the scene show flames shooting out of the building.
  2. Following a week of nearly constant rain, Chicago set a record early this morning for the wettest May in city history. This month has seen 8.3 inches of rain so far; the previous May rainfall record was 8.2 inches, set last year.
  3. With a Downstate legislator planning to show up bare-faced to the first General Assembly session since the pandemic hit, state House Speaker Michael Madigan has proposed new rules requiring all members, staffers and observers to wear masks. Anyone not adhering to those rules would be “asked to leave the premises immediately.”
  4. When Pedro and Margarito Flores — two of the most important drug informants in U.S. history after turning on “El Chapo” — were sentenced in 2015, the judge made it clear he thought they had drug money stashed away for when they got out of prison. At the time, federal prosecutors had discovered no evidence of hidden assets. But that’s changed.
  5. Another 146 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, officials said today. But the entire state, including Chicago, is still on track to see more restrictions lifted by the end of the month.
  6. Bob Mariano, the man behind Mariano’s grocery stores, plans to open a new chain of grocery stores in Chicago with the first one slated to open next March in Lincoln Park. Dom’s Market and Kitchen will be a “small-footprint grocer” with prepared foods to take home or eat on site.

A bright one

Milwaukee twins who earned 37 college acceptances, $1 million in scholarships want to become nurses

These twin sisters from Milwaukee have plenty to be proud of as they finish up senior year: They’re graduating at the top of their class — and have been accepted to 37 schools.

Arielle and Arianna Williams, graduating seniors at Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, have received a combined $1 million in scholarships, per WISN-TV in Milwaukee, and are expected to graduate without any student debt.

Arielle and Arianna Williams, graduating seniors at Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, have received a combined $1 million in scholarships.
Good Morning America

The Williams sisters plan to attend nearby Marquette University, where they will study nursing. They’re the first in their family to attend college.

They were inspired to study in nursing after watching their father battle pneumonia, then suffer a stroke. The coronavirus pandemic has only solidified their decision to enter the field. “With this pandemic going on, I know that nurses are really needed,” Arianna Williams told Good Morning America. “They’re on the front lines saving lives. I want to be a part of that.”

Read the full story, and watch the twins’ interview with Good Morning America, here.

From the press box

Don’t let what Michael Jordan said in “The Last Dance” fool you: The Bulls were never getting the gang back together for a run at a seventh championship in 1999, Rick Morrissey writes.

Will Perdue, who played for both Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich during his NBA playing career, also weighs in on the two legendary, championship-winning coaches and their different styles.

Your daily question ☕

What’s the best book you’ve read during the quarantine? Why did you like it?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you if you’ve adopted any new pets since the stay-at-home order started. Here’s what some of you said…

“We did, but we were planning on getting another dog anyway because we were told another dog would help our dog’s anxiety. Maybe a little sooner than the original plan, but our two dogs are inseparable.” — Natalie Marie Jordan

“Hermit crabs.” — Ann Geocaris

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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