Executive Desk

We first met Jacob three years ago when he called the ICDI Hotline from Detention at McHenry Jail. Cards containing the Hotline phone number were left in the jails by ICDI visitation teams, and ICDI services were well known on the jail grapevine. Jacob needed a sponsor so he could be released. And once released, he would need a place to live.

ICDI often sponsored people so they could be released from detention, so we sponsored Jacob. As it turned out, we did have an opening to house a single man, and ICDI gave Jacob a safe place to live. With support from ICDI case managers, Jacob applied for asylum and work authorization.

Once Jacob received work authorization, he went to drive for Amazon. Jacob was soon able to move into his own apartment and establish his independence. After doing so well for over a year, Jacob started having severe headaches. After several trips to the Emergency Room, the doctors discovered a tumor in the center of his brain. Amazon drivers are contracted employees, leaving them without benefits such as healthcare.

Jacob would ultimately require two surgeries, one to remove the fluid around the tumor to relieve the pressure and one to remove the tumor itself. Jacob had the first surgery last fall, and the second surgery will happen on April 4. ICDI has been supporting Jacob financially since he has been out of work. Like many asylum seekers, he was in danger in his homeland, and he had no connections here in the United States. We are Jacob’s family.

When we spoke this week, he was concerned that he may not be able to go back to work for a while after the second surgery. Sometimes, the recovery is long and arduous. I reassured him that we would be with him throughout this journey.

Very few organizations sponsor asylum seekers to get them out of detention, and fewer still offer them housing. Some assist with asylum applications and employment authorization documents, but I know of none that offer support until they can stand on their own. ICDI is unique in its commitment and care. Jacob won his case for asylum! And I will keep you posted on his medical progress. Thank you for being family to this humble, hard-working guy.

With heartfelt thanks and warm regards,


Deputy Director Desk

Migrant News

This month, approximately 5,000 more people arrived in the city, bringing the total number of migrants to 35,275. Among them, 13,353 people are currently living in shelters, while 12,121 people have been resettled.

 A policy that was supposed to remove migrants from city-run shelters after 60 days has been postponed for a third time. Mayor Brandon Johnson announced this during a news conference on January 29. The first wave of evictions was scheduled for mid-March, but this has now been delayed. This decision came after volunteers and more than a dozen alderpersons requested the city to rescind the limit on shelter stays that was first implemented in November.

Immigrants lined up to board Chicago CTA Warming Bus.
Immigrants lined up to board Chicago CTA Warming Bus.

Thousands of migrants living in Chicago are struggling to find help with their immigration cases or work permit applications. Some migrants living in city shelters are receiving assistance from government officials and local agencies, and around 1,000 people have already received work permits through these efforts. However, many more people not living in shelters are still trying to figure out where and how to seek help.


Top House and Senate Republicans have criticized a bipartisan bill worth $118.3 billion. The bill aims to crack down on unlawful migration across the U.S.-Mexico border and provide urgent security aid to Ukraine.


Governor Greg Abbott of Texas is locked in a legal battle with the Biden administration over immigration enforcement. He has now announced that he will expand his efforts to establish state control over areas near the Rio Grande to deter migrants.

Aerial view of a few dozen immigrants fording a river.

More and more people are crossing the southern border every day, fueled by conflict, climate change, poverty, and political repression. The ability of victims of persecution to seek safety is fundamental to American laws and values, and the asylum standard must be generously constructed to protect refugees and asylum seekers. Still, the current asylum system too often fails to deliver for those who most need protection.

Community Partnerships

Immigration Summit, 46th District

On January 20, 2024, ICDI was invited to participate in an immigration summit hosted by Rep. Diane Blair at the Villa Park Public Library. The summit brought together various community members and stakeholders to discuss ways to improve coordination efforts in serving newly arrived migrants who are being dropped in suburban areas by Texas Governor Abbott.

46th District Immigration Summit. Image depicts tables in a square arrangement and participants around the tables.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet

This month, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet and ICDI met at the DuPage Hunger Network event. We are currently discussing the possibility of coordinating an event with the diocese mobile food pantry team. We aim to deliver healthy food to our community and the new arrivals. All mobile food pantries are contact-free drive-thru, and Catholic Charities requests that you make some space in your car’s back seat so volunteers can load your trunk or back seat.

Once we finalize this partnership, we will tell you the dates and locations when the mobile food pantry will be available.

The diocese has also launched a new program called “Stepping Up.” It is a class promoting empowerment, peace, and ways to cope with life during this winter season. Stepping Up is a group that offers support, encouragement, and practical steps to make life more manageable for members of our communities.

Topics covered in the class will include living beyond your past, time management, goal setting, effective communication, budgeting, boundaries, and racial and cultural identity. If you’re interested in registering, please contact Joy Newburn at 630-519-6547 or JNEWBURN@CC-DOJ.ORG.

You can choose to attend the class either in person or virtually. The group started on January 30 and will continue every Tuesday morning from 10:00 am to 11:30 am for eight weeks.

100+ Women Who Care

The Elmhurst Independent newspaper featured ICDI on February 1, after the organization received a $15,000 donation from 100+ Women Who Care. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of this group of kind-hearted women and would like to encourage everyone to continue supporting our work by donating today.

Program’s Update - Colin

ICDI was invited to present to the St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale, Illinois, on Sunday, February 4. Sarah Ankunda and I spoke about ICDI, our impact, asylum seekers, humanitarian needs in Illinois, and how to help. We are so grateful for their donations of men’s pants and underwear to provide to newcomers in the Welcome and Essentials program.

We are excited to announce that this month, we are partnering with CURE Clinic, an Access Program from Rush University Medical Center. CURE Clinic provides free healthcare services, specifically Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) and Orthopedic care, to people experiencing homelessness. Our partnership will help provide access to these healthcare services for our shelter residents in our Case Management program—more updates to follow in March.

Welcome and Essential Teams Update

Welcome Team

ICDI Welcome Team greeted 73 asylum seekers at the Greyhound station. This included 21 females, 37 men, and 15 children. Food packs, water, clothing, and shoes were provided to the migrants who were met at the station.

ICDI is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) that promises to bring more value to our organization as we welcome and provide essentials to the asylum seekers we meet at the Greyhound station.

ICDI and volunteers at the Greyhound station.

Essentials Team

The Welcoming and Essentials Team continues to partner with Chicago Refugee Coalition (CRC), DePaul and UIC students, and individual volunteers who have helped sort, organize, and maintain ICDI’s storage facilities in Elmhurst and downtown Chicago. The team has supported the making of hygiene kits, food, and clothing packs distributed to the Greyhound station, the shelter, and independent individuals already settled within communities in the Chicagoland area.

Shelves and bins full of clothes, blankets, and shoes along with volunteers organizing.

The Essentials Team continues supporting migrants living in the tent cities at the 12th district police station. Despite the police districts getting decompressed, ICDI continues to provide essential items to the asylum seekers who are still living in the tent cities at the 12th district police station.

ICDI distributing Essential goods from a van with immigrants waiting in line.
Distribution of Essentials
Migrants walking across the snow to tents with tarps o
Migrants at a Tent City in Chilling Weather

Hamilton Elementary Students

Hamilton Elementary School students collected and organized more donations for ICDI. The students assembled over 2,000 items for hygiene kits. They did this through community outreach programs. The students were eager to learn more about the immigration crisis, and we had the opportunity to discuss ICDI and our work.

Case Management Update

Case Management Success at the Shelter

We’re thrilled to share some remarkable achievements from our recent efforts in case management at the shelter. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve accomplished:
  • We’ve assisted 23 individuals with applications for public benefits, including SNAP, Cash Assistance, and Medical Aid. These benefits are crucial for asylum seekers and fall under the category of Cash and Food Assistance for Non-Citizen Victims of Trafficking, Torture, or Other Serious Crimes (VTTC). VTTC benefits are specifically available for Illinois residents over 19 and are state-funded, not federal.
  • 91 Participants/Shelter Residents Served: Through our dedicated efforts, we’ve aided 91 participants and shelter residents.
  • Providing Essential Items: We’ve distributed essential items to those in need, including coats, hygienic kits, clothing, and undergarments, and facilitated vision appointments with free glasses.
Hygiene kits filling many boxes awaiting distribution
Migrant receiving a winter coat and hygiene kit

Additionally, we’re grateful for the support from Hamilton High School students, who generously made and donated hygiene kits. These kits contain essential items such as toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, and feminine products, contributing to the well-being and dignity of those we serve.

Thank you to everyone involved for your dedication and support in positively impacting the lives of asylum seekers and shelter residents.

Case Management Services in the Chicago Area

One of the families who is currently a part of ICDI’s case management recently experienced a family emergency where the head of the household had two strokes and was hospitalized. During this time, we have assisted with transportation to the hospital for the family. The family has expressed how essential the Uber services have been in making it to the hospital during visiting hours. ICDI has also been able to provide emergency groceries to the family during this difficult time.

Family with groceries

We have welcomed a new member to our case management participants this month. One of our participants gave birth to a baby boy, and our case management team provided the new mom with essential items, starting with an infant car seat, which was required for the infant to be able to leave the hospital. We were able to drop it off at the hospital along with items such as baby wipes, diapers, formula, and newborn clothing.
We have received fantastic support from everyone who has purchased items from our wishlists, and we are grateful to everyone who has made it possible for us to continue providing families with essential items.

A wonderful little newborn baby with their hand raised.
A Precious New Arrival

Crisis Intervention Training

The team had the opportunity to participate in a two-day crisis intervention training that focused on trauma-informed care and de-escalation techniques. The trainer explained the program’s objective, centered around their “Care, Welfare, Safety, and Security” philosophy and how to apply it to a situation where you are responding to an individual in distress. We learned how to identify and respond to levels of distress behavior and how to manage our emotional responses to the behavior. It was a great learning experience as we had the opportunity to discuss real-life situations and how these techniques would apply in each scenario.

Eduardo, Rosa, Evelyn, and Gabby take a photo for their Crisis Intervention Class
Eduardo, Rosa, Evelyn, and Gabby
Rosa teaches Eduardo a thing or two in the Crisis Intervention Class
Rosa teaches Eduardo a thing or two in the Crisis Intervention Class