“The American Dream doesn’t exist anymore,” said Michael Castejon, who recently moved his family from Chicago to Texas in preparation to return to their home country of Venezuela.
Since arriving in Chicago, Castejon has been unable to enroll his stepdaughter in school or find a job that pays enough without a work permit, he told the Chicago Tribune.
The family left behind everything and moved to the U.S. from Venezuela to have better access to education, and now joins a countless number of migrants who have chosen to flee Chicago in recent weeks and return to their countries of origin.
“We just want to be home,” he said. “If we’re going to be sleeping in the streets here, we’d rather be sleeping in the streets over there.”
Migrants told the local paper they realize the city is at a breaking point with no space left in shelters. They say they are also aware that the city’s residents oppose the opening of new shelters to house them.
The city created more than two dozen temporary shelters to house migrants in abandoned buildings, but thousands still sleep on floors inside and outside of police stations, while hundreds remain at O’Hare International Airport.
Castejon reached out to staff at Catholic Charities who arranged plane tickets to get the family closer to a border town so they can begin their journey back home.
“We didn’t know things would be this hard,” Castejon said. “I thought the process was faster.”
The family was first housed in a police station, then went to a crowded shelter, then to a house on the south side of the city, then back to the police station after Castejon could not afford rent.
“There’s nothing here for us,” he said.
More than 20,000 migrants have found their way to the Windy City since August of 2022 when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began sending them to sanctuary cities.
Chicago Mayor Branson Johnson recently met with President Joe Biden to request a $5 billion federal aid package for migrant shelters and services.