ST. LOUIS – The City of St. Louis could soon set the foundation to help “resettle Chicago migrants” as thousands scramble to find jobs and shelters in the Windy City.
A report Wednesday from Chicago public radio station WBEZ (91.5 FM) notes that “a St. Louis civic leader visited Chicago this week to explore bringing migrants to his city.”
WBEZ reports that thousands of migrants from Venezuela have made way to Chicago since last year, and some are temporarily living at police stations and airports. The report further states St. Louis could be a stronger long-term fit for migrants to help the City of St. Louis reverse its long-time declining population and improve its job force.
Karlos Ramirez, vice president of Latino Outreach for the International Institute, told WBEZ such an arrangement “could be the potential for a great relationship between both cities.” He added, “If the [migrants] are going to be in a better place, St. Louis is going to be in a better place, and Chicago is going to be in a better place, I think everybody wins.”
The International Institute of St. Louis, with support from Ramirez and others, announced the Latino Outreach Program last month with the goal of “making St. Louis the focal point for newly-arrived Latino immigrants to permanently move to St. Louis,” according to a news release from the organization.
St. Louis leaders have discussed a comprehensive strategy that could offer migrants three months of free housing and financial guarantees, a partnership with trade unions to offer training in manufacturing jobs, various job placement services, and six months of free phone and Internet services, among other benefits.
The Latino Outreach Program is modeled after a similar program that has brought Afghan refugees to St. Louis in recent years.
“Our community’s success in attracting Afghan immigrants over the past 20 months has given us
a template for welcoming others from across the globe,” said Jerry Schlichter. “The immigrants St. Louis has welcomed have brought a work ethic along with their unique culture that have strengthened neighborhoods and made our community stronger. Our focus now on Latino countries is sending another message to the immigrants already in America that we want them to build their lives in St. Louis.”
Ramirez says the next steps in relocating migrants to St. Louis from Chicago are sharing information with partner organizations and agencies in Chicago and seeking documentation for asylum-seekers through the Biden parolee program, per WBEZ. Ramirez says such a decision would need to be done strategically to avoid a homelessness situation in St. Louis.
FOX 2 reached out to the St. Louis Mayor’s Office for comment. The mayor’s office shared this statement in response to the International Institute and the WBEZ report Wednesday afternoon:
“While the City has not had direct conversations on welcoming more migrants from Chicago, the City of St. Louis has had a longstanding cooperative relationship with the International Institute to welcome immigrants and refugees to the St. Louis area. With the creation of the Office of New Americans under Mayor Jones’ leadership, the City is working to improve immigrants’ experience with our local government.
Gilberto Pinela, the recently announced new Director of the Office of New Americans, begins in early November. We look forward to welcoming him and continuing our strong relationships with the International Institute.”