Some Venezuelan migrants who trekked thousands of miles to the US in search of a better life are so disheartened they say theyre already heading back home.
Michael Castejon, 39, told the Chicago Tribune he has had enough after he, his wife and teenage stepdaughter spent five months sleeping either in a police precinct or a crowded city shelter in the now-brutally cold Windy City.
Hes also been unable to secure a job permit or enroll his daughter in a local school two of the main reasons things they thought would bring a better life in the US.
The American Dream doesnt exist anymore, Castejon told the paper on the eve of his familys departure.
Theres nothing here for us
We just want to be home, Castejon told the Tribune of the South American country he earlier fled.
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If were going to be sleeping in the streets here, wed rather be sleeping in the streets over there.
More than 20,000 migrants have made their way to Chicago since August 2022, when Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began loading them onto buses and shipping them off to sanctuary cities. Many of them ended up sleeping at OHare International Airport, at local police stations, or in the streets.
Migrants Michael Castejon and wife Induliz Seville wait for an Uber ride from the 1st District police station in Chicago to O'Hare International Airport on Nov. 3, 2023, as they try to return to Venezuela 3 Migrants Michael Castejon and wife Induliz Seville wait for an Uber to the airport to start their journey back to Venezuela. TNS Fed up with the lack of housing and job opportunities, Castejon eventually followed in the footsteps of other disillusioned asylum seekers and turned to Catholic Charities to obtain plane tickets for his family to travel to Texas. From there, they will somehow find a way to return to their native Venezuela, he said.
How many more months of living in the streets will it take? No, no more. Its better that I leave, he said.
At least I have my mother back home, he said of the South American nation he fled earlier this year.
Yorbelis Molero, 16, second from left, says goodbye to a friend as Molero and her family of five wait to leave a Chicago police station and head to a Greyhound bus station on Nov. 2, 2023. 3 Yorbelis Molero, 16, second from left, says goodbye to a friend as Molero and her family of five wait to leave a Chicago police station and head to a Greyhound bus station on Nov. 2, 2023. TNS Castejon and his family were among numerous disheartened asylum-seekers who have decided to leave Chicago in recent weeks as the weather in the Windy City has grown colder and wetter, the paper found.
Some suggested that they had been drawn to Chicago after being wrongly led to believe that they could be swiftly granted asylum status and a work permit, paving the way for a better life.
We didnt know things would be this hard, Castejon said. I thought the process was faster.
Others said they have realized that Chicagos limited resources have been depleted by waves of migrants that have overwhelmed the Democrat- led sanctuary city over the past 16 months, leaving the latest newcomers with nothing but scraps.
Migrants are camped outside of the 1st District police station, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Chicago. 3 If were going to be sleeping in the streets here, wed rather be sleeping in the streets over there, Castejon said. AP 11 What do you think? Post a comment. Jose Nauh, 22, also returned to Texas earlier this month after sleeping in a police station in Chicago for more than two weeks.
Nauh said he came to Chicago because he heard there was shelter, food and other resources for asylum seekers, but thats not true, he said.
In a scathing letter to President Biden in October, Illinois Democrat Governor, J.B. Pritzker accused the federal government of failing to provide adequate assistance to Chicago a migrant crisis that has brought the city to a breaking point.
The humanitarian crisis is overwhelming our ability to provide aid to the refugee population, Pritzker wrote. Unfortunately, the welcome and aid Illinois has been providing to these asylum seekers has not been matched with support by the federal government.
Pritzker noted that more than $330 million had already been spent by the state to house and feed the migrants.