CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker is asking communities outside of Chicago to take in some of the continuing influx of non-citizen migrants.
Buses carrying over 15,000 migrants, who illegally crossed the southern border of the U.S., have arrived in Chicago this year, after the city declared itself a “sanctuary city” in 2021.
The declaration, made by Democratic former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, was in response to former President Donald Trump’s goal to build a wall along the Texas border.
“Let me state this clearly, the city of Chicago can not go on welcoming new arrivals safely and capably without significant support and immigration policy changes,” Mayor Brandon Johnson has said.
At an event on Thursday, Pritzker blamed Republican governors in southern states for overwhelming Chicago’s resources, even though the Democrat mayor of El Paso, Texas, sent two buses to the city last weekend.
“[He] needs to listen to the cities that he’s sending folks to and start thinking about whether or not this should be spread across the country. Why is he not sending anybody to Idaho, Wyoming?” Pritzker asked.
“They’re doing it because they’re sending them to areas where they think that people will take care of them and where people will put the resources forward because this is a humanitarian crisis,” Pritzker said, according to The Center Square. “But the reality is that states that are controlled by Republicans ought to be offering the same services.”
Pritzker said he has concerns about a $29 million tent camp planned to house migrants currently staying at the city’s police stations.
To encourage other cities in the Chicago region to take in the migrants, Pritzker announced $41.5 million in grants to pay for shelter and housing support, food, legal support, and health care.
“I hope that cities [in Illinois] will raise their hands and offer assistance,” Pritzker said. “We have provided grant opportunities for cities that will do that.”
“So when you think about ‘let’s just move them into the wide open spaces of rural Illinois,’ that’s not going to happen because these folks do need help and those kids need to go to schools and some of those schools are not big enough to handle the number of kids,” he added.
Under U.S. immigration law, foreign nationals seeking asylum in America are required to wait in their home country for 150 days after submitting their application for a work permit.
The migrants arriving in the Chicago area have bypassed the country’s legal immigration system.
A “sanctuary city” is a city that has pledged to accept migrants and refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
According to the city’s Sanctuary City Ordinance, Chicago authorities do not ask an individual’s immigration status or report noncitizens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which would deport them to their home countries.
Republican governors in southern states, which have had their resources stretched thin by the tens of thousands of migrants circumventing proper ports of entry, began bussing migrants northward, toward cities, such as Chicago and New York, that had declared their sanctuary status.
Lightfoot and New York Mayor Eric Adams subsequently declared a State of Emergency over the massive influx of migrants, in hopes of gaining access to federal funding to deal with the housing crisis.
Chicago and Illinois taxpayers have set aside $94 million for migrant housing, and the state has budgeted $550 million for migrant health care, but authorities say there is no end in sight to the arrivals and critics say the cost will fall on taxpayers.
Pritzker said Thursday that he has spoken with the Department of Homeland Security and the White House for assistance.