Afternoon Edition: July 21, 2020

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

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Jonic Zhehao Zhu, 21, from Shanghai, is a chemistry major and a junior at Northwestern University.

Pat Nabong/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.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be partly sunny, with up to an inch of rain and a high near 83 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 70 degrees. Tomorrow, more of the same: We could see some rain amid partly sunny skies, and a high around 85 degrees.

Top story

Foreign students question future in U.S. after pandemic, visa uncertainties

Growing up in Vietnam, Seth learned English with hopes of someday studying — and eventually settling — in the United States. 

“My whole life has been in the trajectory that I would … ultimately find my life here,” said Seth, who now attends school at the University of Chicago.

But recent events in the U.S. have made Seth and other international students in Chicago question whether those types of dreams can be realized. First, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing some foreign students to race home to be with their families when campuses closed, and stranding others who faced travel restrictions. 

Then earlier this month, after students made plans to return to college in the fall, the federal government announced it was halting COVID-19 exemptions that had allowed international students to take more online classes than normal and keep their visas during the spring and summer.

Seth, who asked that their last name not be included, became at risk of suddenly being sent back to Vietnam: “My folks don’t know at all that I’m trans … [or] that I’m transitioning medically,” Seth said.

Although the Trump administration has since backed down from the plan to drop the exemption, Seth said it was another indication that not everyone here values international students. “This is just revealing to me more clearly that the U.S. doesn’t care about me,” said Seth. 

Laurisa Sastoque, a student from Colombia who will be a sophomore at Northwestern, said recent events have led her to consider whether she would have been better off staying in her native country and studying medicine.

Sastoque had to rush back to Colombia when the pandemic forced Northwestern to move classes online in the spring. She was quarantining there when ICE announced its decision to end its COVID-19 exemptions regarding international student visas, threatening her return for fall semester. If she lost her visa, reapplying would be tough since the U.S. embassy in Colombia was closed.

After the ICE restrictions were lifted, her biggest worry is COVID-19 — catching it through traveling internationally or while back in the U.S.“Being alone while sick, and probably with medical bills, that’s not a great situation to be in,” she said. In the end, Sastoque decided to stay in Colombia and take her courses remotely this term.

For Jonic Zhehao Zhu, a rising Northwestern junior from China, ICE’s sudden announcement of the visa restrictions was maddening. He said it’s been upsetting to see concerns raised about foreign students as the outbreak spread from China across the globe earlier this year.

“Scapegoating and continued acts of xenophobia such as the ICE guidance are infuriating,” he said.

Read the full story from Jade Yan here.

More news you need

  1. Rapper Kanye West, jumping in the presidential campaign very late, filed petitions to appear on the Illinois 2020 ballot yesterday minutes before the deadline. West, who was raised in Chicago, filed as an independent candidate.
  2. Slightly more than half of Chicago Public Schools parents want some type of in-person instruction in the fall, according to a poll released today. The top concern for most parents in the coming months? Keeping their children’s learning on track.
  3. Guthrie’s Tavern, a Wrigleyville fixture for 34 years, announced its permanent closing yesterday in a statement blaming the city’s latest tightening of pandemic-slowing regulations on bars. “We don’t see a way we can survive,” staff said.
  4. Travelers arriving to Chicago from Kansas must quarantine for a 14-day period to avoid potential spread of the coronavirus under an expansion of the city’s Emergency Travel Order issued earlier this month. Starting Friday, Kansas will become the 18th state covered by the order.
  5. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is enlisting Chicago sports teams in a full-court-press campaign to convince young people responsible for a recent uptick in coronavirus cases to stop their risky behavior. At Guaranteed Rate Field, home of her beloved White Sox, Lightfoot unveiled a public service and education campaign she called, “We Are All One Team.”
  6. More than 2,200 Chicago cops received new protective vests in the past two weeks, including one officer whose vest saved his life last month. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit that aids Chicago police officers, covered the $1.1 million price tag.
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A bright one

Chicago’s first ‘Black Lives Matter’ street mural goes up in South Shore

South Shore residents and other Chicagoans came together over the weekend to paint the city’s first “Black Lives Matter” street mural on one of the South Side neighborhood’s main drags.

The street mural — on Jeffery Boulevard between 70th and 71st streets — is an adaptation of the city’s flag with the words “Black Lives Matter” written in blue letters and red stars between each word. Roughly 250 people helped paint the mural over several hours Saturday at the event organized by community activist William Calloway and the community group South Shore Works, with artist Quentin Crockett overseeing the painting. 


Chicago’s first “Black Lives Matter” street mural, seen here from a drone flying over Jeffery Boulevard in South Shore, plays off the image of the city’s flag.


South Shore has a history of activism and community engagement, which made the neighborhood an ideal spot for the street art, participants said: “Jeffery Boulevard is the main artery in South Shore. We want the community to know that they matter to us,” said Calloway, a former aldermanic candidate. “It mattered to us to put it here instead of Stony [Island Avenue] or in front of Trump Tower downtown or a police station. We want to uplift our community.

“We’ve seen people come together and unite around the concept of Black Lives Matter. In some ways, it was therapeutic for so many of us to be able to gather with our family, friends, and neighbors to paint. For some, it was the first social gathering they’ve done since the pandemic.”

Read Evan F. Moore’s story here.

From the press box

Bulls rookie Daniel Gafford didn’t help Jim Boylen’s case to remain with the team by taking a shot at the head coach on Twitch yesterday

“‘Do you like Jim Boylen?’ He aight. I don’t like him a lot, but he OK,” Gafford said while streaming NBA 2K20. “Got some things he can work on, got some things he can get better at as a person and as a coach.”

The Bears also inked contracts with their 2020 draft picks today, starting with cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

Your daily question ☕

Today would have been Robin Williams’ 69th birthday. Which of his performances was your favorite?

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: What do you think of Lightfoot’s decision to tighten restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms after the COVID-19 spike among young people? Here’s what some of you said…

“100% with it. Shouldn’t have relaxed a thing. People are still not taking this thing seriously. Mandate mask wearing too.” — Christian Lane

“As much as I hate it, I think indoor dining should not be allowed. It’s just too soon. People are becoming too careless.” — MJ Tam

“Why do that? We understand the seriousness of this virus, but further meltdown of businesses would result in permanent closures, financial issues, loss of homes and property.” — Mark Hancock

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

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