(The Center Square) – Chicago has introduced its budget that includes more funding for the state’s migrant crisis; however, there are questions regarding whether the funding will be enough.
The state has seen over 24,000 migrants arrive over the last 15 months. In response, Chicago has set aside an additional $150 million to help shelter and care for the influx of noncitizen arrivals.
Mayor Brandon Johnson says this is not a Chicago problem in which they should be left on their own.
"This is a national problem. It is an international problem," Johnson said. "The federal government has to do more."
Johnson said he has already reached out to federal officials about providing extra funding.
"I went to D.C. a couple of weeks ago and said a minimum of $5 billion for the country. That’s what I said," Johnson said. "Our congressional congregation I am in regular conversations with, and they know what their assignment is."
Chicago projects a budget gap of $538 million for the coming fiscal year.
According to NBC Chicago, $200 million of the gap comes from care for noncitizen arrivals, and that $56 million went to Favorite Healthcare Staffing, a Kansas-based company that has been tasked with taking care of the noncitizens. Some of their employees were being paid up to $195 per hour.
Chicago is also using the funding for 16 warming buses to keep the noncitizens warm during the winter, and the city has set aside $29 million for military-grade tents.
Johnson said his expectation is that the federal government will step up and help the city.
"Just like the state of Illinois knows what their assignment is, just like Cook County government knows what their assignment is, and as a public school teacher, I expect people to turn their assignment in," said Johnson.
When asked how much money they would need, Johnson said, "A lot."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced Thursday the state’s plan, including an additional $160 million investment through the Illinois Department of Human Services.
State Sen. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, pushed back on the use of taxpayer funds for the migrants.
“Governor Pritzker should not be surprised that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are coming to Illinois by the busload. The word is out that Illinois is a Sanctuary State that offers free healthcare, driver’s licenses, housing assistance and other benefits to non-citizens." Chesney said. "These are taxpayer funds that he is diverting, and it’s time he reexamined his priorities and worked harder to ensure those who live and pay taxes here are taken care of first."
Illinois has spent over $500 million to care for the migrants since they arrived.