SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — With a COVID-era immigration rule ending, Sen. Dave Syverson is warning that Illinois’ social healthcare programs will draw an influx of undocumented immigrants to the state and overwhelm its healthcare system.

The United States’ Title 42 immigration policy ends next week, which allowed the government to deny people the right to seek asylum.

Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) said that Illinois is the only state in the country that fully covers healthcare for undocumented immigrants ages 42 and older, a policy likely to draw thousands of migrants to the state.

“When they’re crossing the border and they realize they have health conditions, they know there is one state to come to when you have health issues,” Syverson said, according to The Center Square.

“If they are going to keep the border open, then [the federal government] should be paying for those costs, not asking Illinois taxpayers to put aside programs for the disabled, seniors and our own residents to provide high-quality health care for people from other countries,” Syverson said. 

According to a report by Health Care and Family Services, in 2024 there will be an additional 108,400 undocumented immigrants needing health care, a number that exceeds current estimates.

Current estimates place the number of undocumented immigrants living in Illinois at over 500,000, with nearly 4,000 over the age of 65.

State Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) previously said there are no federal match dollars for treating immigrants as part of the state’s Health Benefits or Immigrant Adults program, leaving Illinois to pick up the tab.

Illinois introduced the program in March 2022. Covered services include doctor and hospital visits, lab tests, physical and occupational therapy, mental health, substance abuse disorder services, dental and vision services, and prescription drugs.

“The HFS report shows a dramatic growth in undocumented immigrant participation, which will require nearly a billion dollars in general revenue funds to support this program in fiscal year 2024,” Hammond said.

Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago), however, cast doubt on the report’s findings. “Republican lawmakers overreacted to preliminary financial projections related to the cost of the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults Program,” he said. “The enrollment number in this program only reflects a great need for healthcare options in underserved communities.”

Earlier this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleaded with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop busing immigrants to the city.

“We simply have no more shelters, spaces, or resources to accommodate an increase of individuals at this level,” she wrote.

Chicago has welcomed more than 8,000 asylum seekers since last August, with Lightfoot saying many of those who have been bussed or flown in are in dire need of basic resources.

Republican Abbott has said that Texas cannot care for the thousands of immigrants that cross the border each day, and has called upon the federal government for both legal and financial assistance. While immigration remains a political hot-button issue in Washington, Abbott began busing undocumented migrants to Democrat-controlled states and cities, including Illinois and Chicago, that have touted their “sanctuary” policies for migrants.