Chicago migrants: Johnson to use $95M in COVID funds for crisis; more suburbs pass regulations

Matteson, Hillside, McHenry expected to pass migrant bus regulations at Friday meetings

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Saturday, December 30, 2023
Chicago will use $95M in federal funds for migrant response
Mayor Brandon Johnson plans to shift 95 million in federal COVID relief funds to cover some of the costs of arriving migrants.

ELBURN, Ill. (WLS) -- With more than seven buses carrying migrants expected to arrive in Chicago Friday, Mayor Brandon Johnson joined other mayors to emphasize that cities are reaching a breaking point.

"Without a coordinated effort, this is going to crush local economies because there is a financial responsibility we have all taken on," he said.

Johnson told city council members the cost of migrant support is approaching $300 million this year. He plans to shift $95 million in federal COVID relief funds to cover some of the costs.

"At least that prevents us from having to dip into the budget and cut back on city services this year; next year is another matter," said Ald. Brian Hopkins.

Hopkins said if the crisis continues in 2024 without more federal support, cuts in city services are inevitable.

And it's not just Chicago that is trying to tackle how to handle the migrant crisis.

More and more suburbs and counties are scrambling to come up with plans to deal with new arrival drop offs.

Thursday night more migrants got off a train in downtown Chicago that had come from the suburbs. It comes as buses try to avoid regulations put in place by Chicago.

Mayor Brandon Johnson addressed the issue on CNN Friday morning and blasted Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has been sending buses to sanctuary cities.

"He is now sending buses outside of the city of Chicago, in some instances 100 miles away, and they're being dropped off and they're being told they're in the city of Chicago," Mayor Johnson said. "Literally dropped off in the middle of nowhere and I find that to be inhumane."

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More and more suburbs and counties are scrambling to come up with plans to deal with new arrival drop offs.

Thursday night the village board in Matteson passed a new ordinance threatening hefty fines for bus drivers unloading migrants without notice.

"The message is don't just drop off individuals into our community," Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currie said. "Don't do that to anyone. It's inhumane to do that."

Matteson joins a long list of suburbs passing similar ordinances and more communities are expected to follow suit. Posen also passed a migrant bus ordinance Thursday night.

The migrant crisis is showing no signs of letting up. Friday morning, more migrants arrived at the city's landing zone in the South Loop.

On CNN, the mayors of Chicago, New York City and Denver, said they are at or near a breaking point.

"The breaking point looks like having to cancel my police class, stopping some of my trash pick up and looking at some of my school programs that will have to be canceled," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

All three mayors keep appealing to the White House and to Congress to fix what they call a solvable issue.

"What we need is everyone who that get paroled into this country to work as soon as they enter," Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said. "They should have federal dollars to help support them in the cities they arrive in and we should have a coordinated national plan for where those folks arrive."

The city of McHenry is planning to hold a special meeting later Friday night. They're also expected to pass their own bus regulations.

Meanwhile, McHenry County released a statement Friday saying, "McHenry County does not have the authority to direct a municipality to assume any role in housing asylum seekers, but it may facilitate the efficient transportation of asylum seekers to the consolidated resources of the State of Illinois in the City of Chicago."

The Village of Hillside in the west suburbs also passed a similar bus ordinance on Friday.

"As part of the Village of Hillside's efforts to tackle migrant bus-related issues in the Chicagoland area, Mayor Tamburino has enacted an executive order today.," a Hillside new release read in part. "This order introduces restrictions, fines, and penalties for buses illegally dropping off individuals. The primary aim is to safeguard the health and safety of both residents and bus occupants. The Village lacks the resources to adequately support these migrants."