CHICAGO — Mayor Brandon Johnson announced Monday that he will not visit the country’s southern border and will instead send a small delegation of city officials, reversing course on earlier plans. 

According to a statement released by the mayor’s office on Monday morning, Johnson, as well as senior aides and key operations personnel, will stay in Chicago to “address the immediate urgency of adding shelter space to house thousands of new arrivals currently sleeping in police stations, airports or outside.”

Johnson announced plans for a southern border trip earlier in the month, but in the statement sent out on Monday morning, the mayor reversed course, saying the delegation would be traveling to Texas without him beginning Tuesday.

According to the statement, the mayor’s administration is coordinating a delegation that will consist of city, state, faith and philanthropic leaders which will be led by Beatriz Ponce de Leon, the deputy mayor of immigrant, migrant and refugee rights.

According to the mayor’s office, the Texas-bound delegation will travel to El Paso, San Antonio, McAllen and Brownsville, which it says are the primary points of departure for migrants traveling to Chicago. The mayor’s delegation will head to the border to “review operations at federal processing centers, and municipal and NGO-led transit sites, and begin discussions with local stakeholders about ways to alleviate the financial and operations challenges in both Chicago and at the border.”

The mayor’s office says the delegation will work to establish better lines of communication, collect migrant data to help expedite work authorization processing and share details about the ongoing struggles to house migrants coming to the city and the “challenges awaiting those without verified sponsors.”

Following the visit, the delegation will provide updates to the mayor and other leaders and plan a follow-up trip. 

The statement said, in part, “With the weather growing colder and hundreds of migrants arriving each day, it is more important than ever that every stakeholder at the state, federal and local level work diligently to address this challenge, while continuing to meet the needs of Chicago and Illinois residents.”

As of Monday, 18,500 migrants have arrived in the city since August 2022, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. OEMC says 11,241 are currently housed in city shelters while over 3,800 are residing in Chicago police stations and airports. 

As the city continues to grapple with the ongoing migration crisis, Chicago city leaders say they are opening a new shelter for asylum seekers every six days.

Four buses of migrants arrived on Sunday and at least two more buses are expected to arrive in the city on Monday, OEMC said.