Apr 26, 2024 - Politics

"In the Room" podcast explores Venezuela-to-Chicago migrant pipeline

man on an office chair

Photo: Courtesy of Audible

New episodes of "In the Room with Peter Bergen" explore the pipeline of migrants from Venezuela to Chicago.

Why it matters: Migration is currently the No. 1 voter issue, and this podcast makes it easy to get up to speed on the origins and implications of the city's current migrant crisis.

Zoom in: Bergen spoke with Venezuelan migrants, policy experts, city officials and local volunteers to gain their insights.

I gave it a listen. Here's what I learned:

  1. U.S. sanctions aimed at weakening Venezuela's leftist Maduro government have instead damaged the economy enough to drive more emigration, while allowing Maduro to blame the U.S. for his country's woes.
  2. Several migrants cited Venezuela's high food prices, corrupt police, gangs and crime as reasons to leave.
  3. Some tell Bergen they heard Chicago is affordable and full of opportunities, while New York is a bad place for families and D.C. is too expensive. One migrant named Julio expressed surprise to see homeless Chicagoans.
  4. U.S. infrastructure for processing asylum claims is not equipped to handle the recent spike in cases, per former Obama adviser Cecila Muñoz. Asylum cases typically take 5-7 years because of a paucity of asylum judges and officers.
  5. Fewer than half of asylum applications are successful. To secure asylum, applicants must prove a credible fear of persecution in their country of origin if they return.
  6. Many locals donate goods to Chicago migrant shelters, but volunteers say some items — including hair extensions, a broken blender and a cat — have been less than helpful.
  7. While Chicago officials feel overwhelmed by migrant arrivals, city officials in St. Louis and Pittsburgh say they want to attract them.

You can listen to the podcasts here.

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