South Shore High School

The old South Shore High School, 7627 S. Constance Ave.

After a raucous community meeting with city officials a little more than a week ago over a plan to convert the former South Shore High School building into a temporary shelter for migrants, several South Shore residents filed a lawsuit last Thursday attempting to block the shelter’s opening.

The lawsuit comes amid a recent upsurge in refugee and asylum seeker arrivals putting strain on the city’s limited shelter resources. Many are arriving by bus or via one-way plane tickets from Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott has made a point of sending migrants from the border state to “sanctuary cities” like New York and Chicago. In recent weeks, hundreds of new arrivals have been sleeping in O’Hare International Airport, on the floors of police stations and in Chicago Park District field houses while they await other accommodations.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of Natasha Dunn, J. Darnell Jones and “South Shore neighbors,” argues that the city is violating the terms of its lease agreement with Chicago Public Schools. That agreement allowed for the dormant school, located at 7627 S. Constance Ave. and closed in 2014, to be converted into a Chicago Police Department training facility — which opened last year and has since closed — not as a temporary shelter for migrants.

The complaint also alleges that opening a migrant shelter would constitute “a potential threat to the safety, property and overall well-being” of the neighborhood’s current residents.

Frank Avila, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that the court shouldn’t allow people to move into the school until it “has had the opportunity to fully consider the merits of the plaintiff’s claims,” as reported by Block Club Chicago.

A hearing is expected soon.

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