Mayor Johnson wants City Council to approve another $70M for migrant care ahead of DNC: alderman

Alderman said Republicans intend to ramp up migrant buses closer to Democratic National Convention

Craig Wall Image
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Mayor wants Council to approve another $70M for migrants before DNC
Mayor Brandon Johnson wants the City Council to approve another $70M to handle the Chicago migrant crisis, ahead of the DNC, aldermen said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson is looking to the City Council to approve another $70 million to pay for the care of migrants coming to Chicago.

On Tuesday, his administration began briefing City Council members on the proposal.

The number of migrants coming to Chicago has slowed considerably: only five people are currently awaiting placement in shelters, and no buses are expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon from the southern border.

But, on Tuesday, the Johnson administration began holding closed-door meetings at City Hall to brief alderpersons about a plan to authorize another $70 million for the care of new arrivals.

According to Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who has been briefed on the plan, the funds are needed as the city looks ahead to the Democratic National Convention in August.

"We've received intel from the border, that as we get closer to the DNC, Republicans are going to ramp up the number of buses that they're sending to the city of Chicago to embarrass President Biden, and to embarrass the city of Chicago as we host the Democratic National Convention," the 35th Ward alderman said.

The money for the migrants would come from leftover federal American Rescue Plan dollars and from the city's general fund. No other budgets would be reduced, so as not to further alienate City Council members already concerned about the amount of money being spent on migrants.

"We've seen opposition even come from some of the mayor's progressive allies, and so that does complicate the politics," Ramirez-Rosa said.

RELATED: 13 Venezuelan migrants, including 9 kids, found living in unsafe conditions in Hammond basement

In January, the mayor had committed to allocating the money in a joint agreement with the state and Cook County, but then backed out of the deal.

The governor on Tuesday appeared encouraged by the mayor's change of heart.

"And for those who complain about the expenditure that's being made, let's be clear first: This is just basic needs that people are getting. Nobody's getting any fancy, you know, luxuries out of this," Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Some aldermen are still skeptical.

"Where are the needs? What are the future needs? And how are we going to utilize these funds, taxpayers' dollars, in the correct way?" 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack said.

The aldermanic briefings will continue for the next couple of days.

The mayor's office is hoping to win enough support to bring the funding proposal before the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday.