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PJ Media
PJ Media
17 Feb 2024
Rick Moran

NextImg:Illinois and Cook County to Pump $250 Million Into Chicago's Migrant Crisis

The state of Illinois and Cook County have agreed to give Chicago $250 million in taxpayer funds to help feed, shelter, and care for the 35,000 migrants who have arrived in the city over the last year.

The state is pledging more than $180 million while Cook County is planning on adding an additional $70 million. The $150 million response is about $70 million short of what Chicago needs to care for the new arrivals.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is refusing to say how much, if any, Chicago will contribute to the migrant fund.

Governor J.B. Pritzker pledged $160 million in November for migrant services but Chicago's panicky mayor said that wasn't enough. Altogether, the state has given Chicago nearly half a billion dollars so far for migrants.

Johnson has been screaming about not getting enough help from Joe Biden or the state of Illinois. He has threatened to throw migrants out into the cold by placing a six-month limit on how long migrants can stay in city-run shelters. Pritzker and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle have been frequent targets of Johnson's public shaming despite the huge amount of resources the state and county have devoted to migrant services.

"With thousands of asylum seekers continuing to come to Chicago in desperate need of support and with Congress continuing to refuse to act—it is clear the state, county, and city will have to do more to keep people safe," Pritzker said in a statement. "I'm thankful to President Preckwinkle for working with us to help close this budget gap and maintain critical services in the year ahead."

Chicago Tribune:

The migrant crisis has been marked by several instances of tension between Pritzker and Mayor Johnson. In December, the governor scrapped Johnson’s plan to build a migrant camp on a Southwest Side lot over environmental concerns. Last month, Pritzker said he was “deeply concerned” about the mayor’s decision to hold off on opening new shelters.

This year’s county budget included more than $100 million for new arrival costs, largely for healthcare spending. Cook County Health has been spending roughly $1.5 to $2.5 million a month to provide physicals, testing and lab services, vaccinations, behavioral health screenings and counseling, prescriptions and follow up visits, as well as transport to appointments.

A late budget amendment included for the county’s 2024 budget created a new $100 million emergency fund largely dedicated to the migrant mission, including $70 million that could be tapped for new arrival health care and $20 million set aside to compensate municipal or local government costs involving migrant care.

Johnson is trying to avoid paying the $70 million for migrants as part of Chicago's share of the total migrant care bill at all costs. Johnson has big plans for that money and it wasn't earmarked for a bunch of newcomers. He wanted that money to go to the city's poorest neighborhoods on the south and west side.

And those same neighborhoods are accusing Johnson of taking care of foreigners while Chicago residents cry out for help.

Johnson's pressure campaign against Pritzker has been at least partially successful. But the relationship between the two is broken and trust isn't a commodity Pritzker is willing to give away.