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What next awaits the migrants who were brought to Chicago by bus?

CHICAGO — Three months after the first busloads of migrants arrived in Chicago, we’re learning more about their new lives in the City of Big Shoulders.

So far – 3,687 people have arrived in Chicago by bus after the Texas governor, frustrated by immigration policies, began sending people to Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. While the focus has been on bus migrants, local organizations have been hosting self-arriving migrants in the months leading up to the crisis.

One couple let “WGN Investigates” cameras into their temporary home. They arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on their own after being cleared to fly by immigration officials at the border. A friend who was supposed to pick them up at O’Hare never showed up, forcing them to spend three nights at the airport until a Joliet-based nonprofit rescued them.

The migrant, who has not been named, said: “We were tired, without clothes. It was awful, but good. God never leaves anyone. We met one of the cleaners at the terminal. She gave me clothes and food.’

Organizations are working to find permanent solutions for people who arrive by bus and on their own. Veronica Castro helps run the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and says most families won’t be able to get work permits for at least six months. If they cannot work, it will be difficult to find permanent shelter.

Castro adds: “We know that people will be in the asylum process for years. It is planned that people will be settled in housing in a short period of time. There are people who move, but that’s the exception, not the rule.’

City and local immigration advocates are trying to find “friendly hosts” to help place people in permanent homes, but that has been a challenge.

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