CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker, Mayor Brandon Johnson, Illinois congressmen and business groups gathered to discus work permits Wednesday, advocating for federal assistance speeding up the process for new arrivals to acquire them, as migrants pack some Chicago police stations.

Specifically, state and local leaders along with members of the local workforce are calling on the federal government to provide legal authorization to work for people currently in Illinois, calling it a major steppingstone to self-sufficiency and self-determination.

Officials are asking Homeland Security to allow the state to sponsor asylum-seekers through the Significant Public Benefit designation.

They point at a dire need for workers in industries like food processing, clean energy, health care, transportation, warehouses and more. Adding that legal authorization to work for new arrivals are needed in order to avoid labor exploitation through trafficking and wage theft.

This announcement comes days after Mayor Johnson and Gov. Pritzker sent a joint letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, advocating for workforce expansion which would grant non-citizens the ability to legally work in industries facing labor shortages.

Officials note the city and the state have spend $350 million to help welcome and support more than 13,000 asylum-seekers who have arrived in Chicago from the US-Mexico border in the past year.

So far, they say they have been reimbursed about $38 million from the federal government and are asking for more assistance.