Chicago, IL

Chicago City Council Debates 'Sanctuary City' Status as Windy City Overrun with Migrants

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Pritzker hopes other cities will help but says it's voluntary

The Chicago City Council's Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights convened at City Hall to discuss the ongoing arrival of migrants in the city, prompting a debate over Chicago's "sanctuary city" status. The meeting, held on Friday morning, primarily centered on issues related to welcoming new arrivals.

However, the discussion took a turn as two Chicago aldermen announced their intention to file a resolution with the council, potentially leading to a ballot referendum allowing residents to determine if Chicago should continue to be a sanctuary city. This move comes as the city grapples with an increasing number of migrants.

Ald. Andre Vasquez, who chairs the immigration committee, expressed concerns about the administration's plan to establish military-grade tent base camps for migrants. He stated, "I'm saddened by the possibility that we are on the precipice of this administration moving forward with military-grade tent base camps in our great city."

The recent influx of migrants, with a record number of buses arriving this week, has led to nearly 2,000 new arrivals being housed in police stations. Additionally, the healthcare needs of migrants have incurred costs for the city, with 353 ambulance calls reported from police stations, shelters, and airports in the past week.

Vasquez suggested that either the city council or the mayor may need to convene a special full council meeting to address the crisis. However, he stressed the importance of ensuring that the meeting remains focused on substantive solutions rather than devolving into chaos.

Meanwhile, Governor JB Pritzker is facing increased pressure from some City Council members to address the growing crisis. Aldermen are seeking more assistance for the city as it shoulders the responsibility of housing and caring for migrants.

Governor Pritzker cited the $330 million in state aid provided to address the situation but also acknowledged the need for other municipalities in the state to offer support voluntarily. He expressed hope that other cities would step forward to assist in managing the ongoing challenges posed by the influx of migrants.

As the debate over Chicago's sanctuary city status continues, the city and state are grappling with the complex issue of accommodating and supporting migrants while maintaining the well-being of local communities.

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Chicago, IL

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