Illinois House Democrats push feds to send more cash for migrants to Chicago

The members, in a letter led by Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, said they had ‘profound disappointment’ over the relatively small grants Washington has sent to Chicago.

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Migrants wait to board a bus that will take them to a processing facility to begin their process of seeking asylum in Eagle Pass, Texas, on December 19, 2022. More than 8,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in Chicago since August of last year.

Photo by VERONICA G. CARDENAS/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — With the city of Chicago bracing for a surge of migrants, nine Illinois House members, all Democrats, on Monday stepped up pressure on the federal government to send more funding as fast as possible.

The Chicago-area members, in a letter led by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., said they had “profound disappointment” over the relatively small grants Washington has sent to Chicago.

On Friday, a new first round of emergency migrant aid delivered $4.3 million each to the city and state of Illinois to help pay for the care of asylum-seekers bused to Illinois by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after crossing the Mexican border into Texas.

The city had asked for a grant of between $39 million and $66.7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter program; the state of Illinois requested $125 million.

In 2022, Chicago received $5.5 million from this FEMA program, the House members noted in their letter.

“Given the significant role government entities and organizations in Chicago and Illinois have played in welcoming migrants, it is critical to secure equitable funding to meet the rising need,” the letter said. It was addressed to FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Besides Garcia, the others signing the letter were Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Mike Quigley, Delia Ramirez, Sean Casten, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jonathan Jackson, Robin Kelly and Danny Davis.

There is a renewed sense of urgency because Title 42 — the COVID-era restrictions that limited crossings at the southern border — are being lifted on Thursday.

The city of Chicago, the House members said, has spent more than $75 million between August and April to take care of 8,000 migrants arriving in Chicago.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a Tuesday briefing the Biden administration is prepared to deal with the estimated 150,000 migrants massing at the border, ready to cross — with many seeking asylum — when the restrictions end.

“We’ve been very clear. We have a multi-agency process. We believe we have a robust process to deal with what is going to occur after Title 42 lifts,” Jean-Pierre said.

She added, “Look, what we have been very clear about is that we do want to put a process in place that’s orderly, that’s humane, and using the tools that the president has in front of him to do just that.”

In the meantime, for Chicago — the immediate wild card is Abbott — how many new arrivals he puts on buses and how many drivers are told to take them to Chicago.

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