Chicago, IL

Chicago Mayor Blames Crime Surge, Rapidly Growing Migrant Crisis on Lightfoot & Far Right Extremism

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Mayor Johnson says he 'inherited' city's disastrous migrant crisis, violent crime rate, with right-wing extremists trying to create turmoil, chaos to target black mayor
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Chicago's Mayor Brandon Johnson attributed the city's decline, marked by a surge in crime and a burgeoning migrant crisis, to his predecessor Lori Lightfoot and what he termed as 'right-wing extremism.' The mayor, unveiling a new initiative to address the escalating migrant problem, asserted that he inherited the crisis six months ago and outlined plans to move migrants from police stations to more dignified shelters.

The Windy City has faced significant challenges, with an influx of 20,000 migrants in the past 14 months, creating a pressing crisis. Many of these migrants were transported from the southern border, overwhelmed by arrivals from Mexico. The strain on resources has led to thousands of asylum seekers staying in police stations and airports due to the city's exhausted capacity.

Mayor Johnson expressed his frustration at the lack of budget allocation for the city's migrant mission when he assumed office in May. Criticizing the previous City Council, he emphasized that the government had to mobilize without the necessary resources from the council.

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor Johnson's predecessor, faced substantial criticism during her tenure for rising crime rates, conflicts with teachers' unions and the police force, and disputes with the City Council. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police issued a symbolic vote of no confidence against Lightfoot in May 2021, citing staff shortages and low morale among the police.

During the press conference, Mayor Johnson did not shy away from placing blame on what he referred to as the 'far right.' He described the observed 'raggedy form of right-wing extremism' targeting democratically run cities, especially those led by people of color. Johnson accused this political faction of intentionally creating division and chaos, citing instances such as the denial of President Obama's citizenship and the storming of the Capitol.

Addressing the ongoing influx of migrants, Mayor Johnson disclosed that up to 22 busloads could be arriving daily in Chicago. He criticized the far right for refusing to accept historical outcomes, such as the Civil War results, emphasizing the disrespectful and mean-spirited nature of such actions.

Yet, the mayor was also resolute in the strength of Chicago and it's ability to withstand what it is experiencing saying: 'Aren't you glad the soul of Chicago isn't broken. Those are the words of Beyoncé, you won't break our soul.'

The tensions in Chicago have further escalated as protests erupted during a City Council meeting discussing the city's sanctuary status for migrants. The predominantly African American residents expressed frustration, waving signs with slogans like 'The RENT is too damn HIGH!' and 'BRING CHICAGO HOME.' Alderman Anthony Beale proposed an advisory referendum, questioning whether Chicago should maintain its sanctuary city status, highlighting the ongoing debate on resource allocation between migrant shelters and impoverished communities.

As of September, the city hosts around 20 active migrant shelters, with a notable concentration on the historically underserved South and West sides. The challenges faced by Chicago reflect broader issues of governance, resource allocation, and the impact of national political dynamics on local communities.

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Chicago, IL

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