On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s prepping Chicago for a “massive climate change re-settlement” of residents from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico that could potentially double the city’s Puerto Rican population of nearly 103,000.
Like Houston opened its doors to New Orleans victims after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so will Chicago – literally becoming a sanctuary city for the displaced residents of Hurricane Maria.
Close to 1,600 Puerto Rican residents have already re-settled in Chicago, largely thanks to the efforts of their family members in Chicago. Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) – chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, predicted another 100,000 Puerto Rican refugees could pour into Chicago.
“You’re witnessing what twelve years ago [after] Hurricane Katrina, I would call the first massive climate change re-settlement. This is another case of a climate change re-settlement. We, as a country and as a city, have to be prepared for that,” Emanuel in a City Hall news conference.
Emanuel said he has reached out to Cardinal Blasé Cupich to coordinate with the city to provide housing, social services and healthcare to Puerto Rican refugees.
The same type of coordination with the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago helped 1,000 children from Central America re-settle in Chicago after being “caught on the border,” according to Emanuel.
“There’s not gonna be a church. There’s not gonna be a school. There’s not gonna be a healthcare facility. There’s not gonna be public or private housing that we are not gonna turn-key this city over to make sure that you have a re-settlement effort,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said the Trump administration’s response to, what has now become a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico was “totally inadequate on a human level….that, somehow, these are not citizens” of the U.S.
“I can either take my energy and criticize them for their inadequacy or take my energy and time and focus on getting ourselves organized so, if they have loved ones, they can bring `em. The kids can get in school. They can get the health care they need. They can get…a roof over their head,” he said.