Democrats Sheltering Migrants Where Now?

Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

According to a Reuters report, the homeless shelter system in Chicago is facing difficulties meeting the needs of incoming migrants due to the expansion of Texas officials’ migrant busing policy. The shelters are experiencing a lack of vacancies, leading some migrants to resort to sleeping in police stations.

The migrants being transported to Chicago are primarily individuals seeking asylum who have been processed by U.S. border officials and released into the interior of the country while awaiting the adjudication of their asylum claims.

Since August, Texas has been sending migrants to Chicago via buses, often without prior notice and without coordinating with local authorities.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, initiated this practice in April 2022, starting with buses bound for Washington and subsequently including New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Representative Jesús García, a Democrat from Illinois, criticized Governor Abbott, accusing him of using the lives of migrants for political gain. García emphasized the important work being done by city leaders and community members in Chicago to uphold the city’s identity as a haven for immigrants. He expressed the need for additional resources and highlighted ongoing efforts with the federal delegation and local partners to secure funds that can support migrants while also benefiting local communities.

Governor Abbott recently announced that the first busload of migrants had arrived in Denver. He defended the practice, stating that Texas border communities should not bear the burden of illegal immigration caused by what he considers President Biden’s lax border policies, such as mass catch and release without court dates or effective tracking. Until the President and his administration take action to secure the border, Texas will continue busing migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities like Denver to alleviate the strain on small border towns.

Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency earlier this month, anticipating an ongoing and increasing influx of migrants into the city. Bus arrivals were set to resume on May 9.

Mayor Brandon Johnson, a Democrat who recently assumed office, struck a different tone in his inaugural address. He emphasized Chicago’s commitment to providing housing for the homeless and serving as a safe haven for those seeking refuge, asserting that there is enough space for everyone in the city. Mayor Johnson expressed his dedication to investing in all people and communities, regardless of their status as asylum seekers or their desire for well-funded neighborhoods.

Mayor Johnson joins a group of Democratic mayors in major cities who are addressing the migrant influx through various means, including participation in Governor Abbott’s busing program.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, faced consequences when he criticized President Biden for his handling of immigration, resulting in his removal as a surrogate for the president’s reelection campaign. Subsequently, a majority of New York’s congressional delegation called on Biden to revise asylum rules, allowing individuals with pending applications to work. Currently, asylum seekers are prohibited from legal employment in the United States for the first 180 days after filing their claims, leaving them dependent on assistance or pushing them towards informal employment.

Advocates argue that this rule exacerbates the challenges for cities in accommodating asylum seekers, particularly in the context of existing labor shortages.