CHICAGO — As Chicago’s humanitarian crisis escalates, Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Brandon Johnson warned the White House the situation is becoming untenable.
According to Pritzker, he received correspondence from the White House Tuesday, 24 hours after delivering a message to the White House on the migrant situation in Chicago, where City officials are expecting as many as 25 busloads of asylum seekers to arrive each day.
“I have spoken to the White House since even over the weekend and the letter to make sure that they heard us and that they want to be responsive,” Pritzker said. “And they’ve said that they want to be responsive to those things.”
Pritzker is asking for a point person to coordinate federal help for migrants, temporary protected status application fees to be waived, and employment authorization for Venezuelans. He said he is also seeking Medicaid waivers and housing vouchers for new arrivals in the City.
As of Tuesday morning, 9,827 migrants were in Chicago shelters, with another 3,012 awaiting placement. In all, more than 17,000 migrants have arrived in the City since the first busload arrived in August of last year.
One question asked of Pritzker at a press conference Tuesday was why the state has not made the decision to ease the burden on Chicago by transporting asylum seekers elsewhere in Illinois.
“The reality is, you need a place where there are services available, where there’s law enforcement available, where there is housing available,” Pritzker said. “The truth is those just don’t exist in many of the counties across the state of Illinois.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to send even more migrants to Chicago as winter months approach as well, applying even more pressure on City and state officials to coordinate resources to accommodate new arrivals.
“We have to have better coordination with every single level of government, and that includes the state of Texas,” Johnson said. “These are asylum seekers, these are not illegal people. The moment they step ground on American soil, they are officially protected by international law.”