Posted on October 27, 2023

Residents Concerned About Plans to Turn Brighton Park Lot Into Migrant ‘Base Camp’

Michelle Gallardo and Liz Nagy, WLS, October 24, 2023

In Spanish and English, people of Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood both revolted against and boisterously accepted the city’s plan to place a massive winterized base camp for migrants in the Southwest Side community.


Bulldozing, and water and sewage work at the privately-owned 10-acre space at 38th and California caught the community off-guard.

“I want them to have buildings, but I don’t want it to be here,” said Anna Zhou, a Brighton Park resident.


Despite the presence of construction crews performing work on the lot for a little over a week now, it wasn’t until Tuesday that Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office confirmed its intent, with the site eventually expected to look something like a migrant camp already constructed in New York City.


“If you look at New York right now, and the mayor saying that his city is falling apart, that this is going to destroy New York City, why are we not looking to them as an example?” said resident Jackie Zuniga.

Dozens of residents have staged around-the-clock protests at the site for the last week.

“We have more than 2,000 people who signed this, and said, ‘No!'” one speaker said.

Speaking publicly for the first time since last week’s contentious encounter with protesters led her to being escorted away by police, Ramirez said she was not consulted prior to the city’s selection of the privately-owned lot. But, she hopes people will come to the meeting with an open mind.


Signs hung at the site indicate some Brighton Park residents are worried for their own safety.

“You are not putting a few people here. You are putting a few thousand!” one speaker said.