Nearly 3,000 asylum seekers pass through DuPage County

asylum seekers
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In just the last few weeks, nearly 3,000 asylum seekers have passed through DuPage County during their journey towards peace and humanity, some of whom have come through Naperville.

That’s according to DuPage County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM) that’s been tracking such data.

What’s the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

Asylum seekers, much like refugees, are those seeking refuge from their home countries in order to escape persecution based on race, religion, nationality and/or political beliefs.  However, they haven’t been officially recognized as a refugee yet and therefore don’t have the same legal protections refugees do.

DuPage County’s assistance

According to a news release, the county is working closely with local and regional partners to safely assist in bringing these asylum seekers to a safe space designated for them, known as a landing zone – which there is only one of in the state of Illinois and that’s in Chicago.

“Our goal remains to provide a secure and smooth transition for these new arrivals after they have traveled such great distances,” said County Board Chair Deborah Conroy.  “The reports I’ve received indicate these passengers are moving peacefully off the buses, through the train stations, causing no incidents. We remain grateful for the collaboration with state, regional, and local officials who are facilitating this process.”

Since mid-December, hose 2,988 new arrivals to be exact have come to DuPage Country train stations on their way to Chicago via 72 buses, according to OHSEM, six of which so far have taken them to the Naperville train station, but it remains unclear just how many asylum seekers in total were passengers on those six buses.  15 other cities also had buses arrive with such passengers, with Hinsdale and Wheaton both having the greatest number of buses at 12 each.

Chicago’s response

These people have arrived just as the city of Chicago is continuing to improve its response.  For example, a new intake center with heated tents is under construction and is set to open in the coming weeks.  The center will connect arrivals with wraparound services.  A new 220-person shelter is also in the works and the Greater Chicago Food Depository announced a $4-million investment to provide meals for these asylum seekers through the end of calendar year 2024.

The city has a website for those who wish to safely provide food, clothing, and even shelter to these asylum seekers.

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