ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With the end of Title 42, the COVID-era immigration policy that allowed the government to turn away asylum-seeking migrants at the southern border, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) said Wednesday that the state is prepared for an anticipated influx.
Pritzker said Illinois is prepared to fulfill “our obligation as Americans” to assist migrants circumventing legal border crossings, according to The Center Square.
Governors in southern states say the federal government has left them with the expense of housing and giving healthcare to undocumented migrants crossing the border.
Those governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) began busing migrants to self-proclaimed “sanctuary cities” in northern states, including Chicago.
Abbott criticized the Biden Administration for failing to enforce America’s immigration policies at the southern border, with migrant crossings causing a strain on the state’s infrastructure.
Abbott cited Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance” as a reason why he selected it as the state’s third drop-off location, behind Washington D.C. and New York City.
Chicago declared itself a sanctuary city in 2018 to uphold a nationwide injunction against a policy enacted by former President Donald Trump in 2017 that sought to cut off federal funding to cities that refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Customs and Border Patrol agents, some with tactical training, were sent to the interior of the country in a confrontation between the Trump administration and the local jurisdictions that set up roadblocks to immigration enforcement.
Supporters of sanctuary policies say people will be less likely to report a crime or to be a witness if they believe they could be deported for doing so.
“Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot loves to tout the responsibility of her city to welcome all regardless of legal status, and I look forward to seeing this responsibility in action as these migrants receive resources from a sanctuary city with the capacity to serve them,” Abbott said in September.
Lightfoot responded that month, saying, “Our city is prepared [for migrants]. We’re a welcoming city.”
However, Chicago’s social service resources were quickly overwhelmed. Lightfoot declared a State of Emergency this week over a surge that is “exceeding the City’s ability to manage.”
“Chicago is doing everything it can to respond to the urgency of this matter. The City has continued to call on federal and state governments to support the new arrival mission with much-needed additional funding and resources for emergency shelter and resettlement, as there are not enough resources currently to meet the need,” Lightfoot’s office Tuesday.
The mayor’s office estimated that roughly 8,000 migrants have arrived in the city since last August. Most of the migrants in Chicago are from Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
The city has used other facilities as shelters, such as a former school building in South Shore, but they have received backlash from residents in those areas who complained that they had not been notified of an “intrusion into daily life.
“While this may constitute an emergency for the city of Chicago, it does not constitute an emergency for the South Shore community,” Ald. Michelle Harris said at a heated community meeting last week.
According to Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara’s office, the state has not notified Rockford if the city will be receiving migrants who arrive in Chicago.
Rockford has never declared itself as a “sanctuary city.”