Chicago threatens to impound buses dropping migrants in the middle of traffic

(The Center Square) – An influx of migrants from border cities has put Chicago at the center of the immigrant debate in the U.S. as it and other large sanctuary cities struggle to shelter and care for new arrivals.

Chicago’s elected leaders continue to welcome migrants, but the cost of doing so has created challenges for a city that has long struggled to balance its budget. With migrants expected to continue coming to Chicago as winter sets in, the city has adopted new measures to handle migrants and the buses that bring them to the Midwest from border states.

The Chicago Mayor’s office said that bus companies contracted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had dropped asylum seekers off in the middle of traffic, on street corners and at O’Hare Airport. The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday that allows it to impound and tow buses that don’t deliver asylum seekers to designated “landing zones.”

“This inhumane treatment further endangers the safety and security of asylum seekers, and adds additional strain to city departments, volunteers and mutual aid partners tasked with easing what is already a harsh transition,” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement.

Chicago is not alone. In November, the mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York pushed for a meeting with President Joe Biden to address growing problems in their cities. In Illinois, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has repeatedly called on the federal government to do more to help sanctuary cities. In New York, Mayor Eric Adams has also put pressure on the White House to do more. Adams has said it will cost about $12 billion over the next three years, according to city estimates. In November, Adams told migrants not to come to New York and sought to suspend the city’s right-to-shelter law.

Johnson has asked the White House for $5 billion for Chicago, but has yet to get a firm commitment that additional help will arrive from Washington D.C.

Since Aug. 31, 2022, the City of Chicago has taken in more than 25,000 new arrivals from the southern border.

The city of Chicago said that Abbott is sending up to 24 buses a day, 24 hours a day to Chicago.

The Texas buses have also dropped off asylum seekers in nearby municipalities, according to the Chicago Mayor’s office.

On Wednesday, the Village of Oak Park’s Emergency Operations Center sent a memo to the village manager saying it has no more space for asylum seekers.

Oak Park is a village with a population of 52,553 that is nine mile west of downtown Chicago. The village’s median annual household income was $103,264 from 2018-2021.

The memo stated that the present asylum seekers were staying at a hotel, a YMCA and a church.

“The Village does not have the capacity to accept additional new arrivals,” the memo stated.

The memo stated that village ordinances do not allow for buses to drop off asylum seekers unless authorized by the village via village-issued licenses.

Abbott posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he has sent 23,400 migrants to Chicago.

“Texas began busing migrants to sanctuary cities to provide relief to overwhelmed border towns,” Abbott posted on the social media site. “Busing will continue until [President Joe] Biden secures the border.”

Abbott stated besides Chicago, there were 12,500 migrants sent to Washington D.C., 28,200 sent to New York City, 3,200 sent to Philadelphia, 9,500 bussed to Denver and 1,200 sent to Los Angeles.

Abbott began busing migrants to Chicago in August 2022.

Gov. Pritzker announced in November the state would give an extra $160 million to the Illinois Department of Human Services to address the arrival of 24,000 asylum seekers form the U.S. Southern Border.

The city of Chicago has budgeted $150 million in 2024 to support temporary shelter, food and other services for migrants. The city also works with Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center to provide free legal services to asylum seekers.

On Thursday, the Chicago City Council convened to discuss a resolution that would let voters decide if the city should keep its Sanctuary City designation, something it has had since 1985. It was voted down.

In March 2023 while campaigning for office, Johnson supported expanding services for immigrants.

“… our city has not done everything it can to help families who have left everything they know and risked unthinkable danger and chaos to seek out better conditions in which to thrive. So we must work to expand our status as a sanctuary city and support a more accessible path to citizenship for all,” Johnson said on his campaign website. “A Brandon Johnson administration will pursue the following to make sure that every migrant, immigrant and refugee in Chicago has the resources they need to thrive, and proudly call the city home.”

The Chicago police do not conduct immigration enforcement and the police don’t ask about the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses.

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