A Bronco will help coordinate assistance for newly arrived migrants in Chicago
Mayor Brandon Johnson picked the Western alumna to help advise the city on how best to help migrants.
Chicago's Advisory Council on New Americans advises the city on how to improve immigrant services. It’s an issue that gained importance in Chicago over the last year, as Texas started busing thousands of asylum-seeking migrants to northern cities.
Newly-appointed commissioner Ana Gil Garcia is the co-founder of the Illinois Venezuelan Alliance. Garcia, who is Venezuelan-American, said about 22,000 migrants have been bused into the city over the last year, and the city wasn’t prepared for it.
“The situation in Chicago has become very, very serious situation, because we were not expecting, you know, these numbers,” said Garcia, a retired academic who earned a doctorate in education from Western Michigan University in 1992.
Garcia said about 80% of the new migrants are from Venezuela. Half of them are children.
“We are the only Venezuelan organization in the city, and in the State of Illinois. And when the crisis came last year, from the mayor's office, they immediately called us.”
Garcia said her organization used to send aid into Venezuela, which is facing acute political and economic turmoil.
“Venezuelans who live overseas, right now, we are in this philosophical dilemma. Because we are basically indirectly supporting the regime, because we are sending money, because we are sending boxes with food, because we are sending clothing. Because, you know, we can’t let them die.”
Garcia said her organization changed its focus when Texas Governor Greg Abbott began busing migrants to Chicago in late August 2022. The group is now helps new Venezuelan migrants in Chicago by organizing food and clothing drives, and helping with housing assistance.
Garcia was formally appointed to the Advisory Council on New Americans on Friday.