CHICAGO — Donald Trump's election victory last week has caused a public health crisis in Illinois, as the communities that drew his ire during the campaign wonder what will happen to them, health officials said Monday.
Calls to crisis and suicide prevention hotlines in Illinois have increased by 200 percent since Trump claimed victory in Tuesday's national election, said Patrick Magoon, president of Lurie Children's Hospital.
During his long and controversial campaign, Trump vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, require Muslim Americans to become part of a registry and restrict access to abortion. These promises have caused "significant distress and anxiety" to many in Chicago and Illinois, said Magoon, speaking at a Monday morning press conference at Lurie's, 225 E. Chicago Ave.
"This is clearly a public health crisis," he said.
The Monday news conference was attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who over the weekend announced that Chicago would be a "sanctuary" city for all people regardless of who is in the White House. Emanuel was joined Monday by Julie Morita of the Chicago Dept. of Public Health, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and other health officials and social services providers calling on the state to provide more resources for mental health issues the election may have brought to the surface.
The crisis is especially impacting Hispanic residents, who make up about one-third of Chicago's population. Hispanic students are dealing with depression and in some cases not showing up to school in the wake of Trump's win, officials said.
Luis Gomez is a 22-year-old IIT student who came to Chicago at 11. He received federal "dreamer" protection as a child of undocumented immigrants, which has allowed him to follow his goal of receiving a graduate degree in public health, Gomez said.
But all that is up in the air now, Gomez said. The election has left him in a "dark place," he said.
"I try to reckon with the reality I face," Gomez said. "That my dad might lose his job. That my family might lose our home."
He grew angry and chided Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Luis Gutierrez — both present at the press conference — for pursuing a "neoliberal" agenda instead of vigorously defending the undocumented.
Students, in particular, have suffered from anxiety and fear since Tuesday's election, the officials said. Tanya Guerrero, chair of the Illinois Dream Fund, a scholarship group for undocumented students, said when students do show up to school, they are depressed and angry.
She said she's had students ask teachers if they can adopt their friends who might lose parents to deportation.
"Some can't get up in the morning," Guerrero said. They feel scared of the road ahead."
The group called for more funds for these populations. Rep. Lisa Hernandez (Chicago) said she will be filing a bill in the General Assembly seeking more funds for crisis centers and counselors. CPS has already announced more resources for students reeling from the election.
Chicago will remain a "sanctuary city" for immigrants who may be targeted by Trump's administration, Emanuel said Monday. The mayor said immigrants of all legal status will still have full access to public resources that they had prior to Trump's win, and the city's 311 hotline will now have help for immigrants during these times, he said.
"Chicago has been a city of immigrants since it was founded. We have always welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds, and while the [White House] administration will change, our values and our commitment to inclusion will not," Emanuel said.