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The Personal Reason Marina Squerciati Was "Moved" by Chicago P.D.'s Burgess Episode
The Chicago P.D. actress also shares she and her character Burgess have this one very big thing in common.
Though the third episode of Chicago P.D.'s 11th season left Burzek fans on the happiest of notes, much of the hour dove into a world that is currently very real for the city of Chicago and its citizens. And it put Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) at the center of it all.
Read on to find out more about the reality that helped inspire Season 11, Episode 3's "Safe Harbor" and how Squerciati brought a bit of her own personal life to the role.
Chicago P.D.'s real "ripped-from-the-headlines" story in Season 11, Episode 3
"Safe Harbor" took on the very real migrant influx that's currently affecting the city of Chicago. In the episode, Burgess is assigned to patrol at a local police station where many migrants have found shelter. Her shift goes terribly wrong when a woman, Raquel, is shot and killed in a drive-by. Viewers later learn that the shooting was arranged by the cop Burgess was working on the case with, Alvarado (EJ Bonilla). It turns out that he'd raped Raquel and got her pregnant, wanting her murdered so his secret wouldn't be revealed.
As shown in the series, hundreds of migrants were sleeping in Chicago police stations until the city began efforts to move them to shelters in November 2023, according to the Guardian. NBC News reports that 27 shelters currently house more than 14,700 migrants — many of whom are Venezuelan as shown in Chicago P.D. — but are still struggling to combat overcrowding and provide adequate conditions. One shelter in particular has faced "complaints about cockroaches, rats, rotten food, exposed pipes, sewage issues, spreading illnesses, and inadequate food and water provisions," according to The Guardian.
NBC News describes the increase in the city's migrant population as a "humanitarian crisis" which began with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing program in August 2022. A total of 29,000 asylum-seekers and migrants have arrived in the city since.
As a Chicago citizen, Squerciati explained that having the opportunity to tell the emotional story depicted in "Safer Harbor" hit home.
"I've been really involved in the migrant crisis and trying to help," she tells NBC Insider. "I have a couple contacts who are at the shelter that I live by. So I've been able to mobilize, and especially because I speak Spanish, go to the shelters. Find out their needs. And so... it's an important cause for me. I was so excited to bring this to the forefront."
She continued, "A lot of the rip-from-the-headlines, they're all wonderful, but this really touched me and moved me in a way that I was really happy to show the world."
Marina Squerciati is fluent in Spanish just like Burgess
In the episode, it's revealed that Burgess can speak Spanish fluently. When talking to Raquel's friend, Gabriella, she explains the personal story of how she learned the language.
"When I was a kid, my parents didn't really want us around too much on weekends, so they sent me and my sister home with our nanny Sylvia, and she was Columbian," she says. "Sylvia was also undocumented. Always looking over her shoulder thinking they'd come for her and deport her. Gabriella, I have never understood the idea of an illegal human being."
Like the character she plays on TV, Squerciati can also speak fluent Spanish, and she has a similar story to Burgess.
"My mom was a single mom, and I was raised, like, part-time by this woman named Maria, and she only spoke Spanish, and she's a naturalized citizen now. But because of her, I speak Spanish fluently," the actress says. "So in a house where my mother didn't speak any Spanish and [Maria] didn't speak any English, I was, like, constantly translating."
She went on to explain that this allowed her to make one small tweak to the episode's script.
"I think the script that Scott Gould gave me; normally, a writer's like, 'Is there anything that isn't tracking for you?' And there was nothing in the script. I think the only thing is that the nanny that he put in the script was from Uruguay, maybe? And I was like, 'I have a Columbian accent, so make her Columbian.' He was like, 'Oh, perfect.' And that was it. I was like the script is gold, Gould."