By ANDREW ADAMS
Capitol News Illinois
CHICAGO – The relationship between Chicago and the state of Illinois remains a focal point in the ongoing debate around the influx of migrants from the southern U.S. border.
Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday said the state’s response to the tens of thousands of migrants that have come to the state over the past year and a half should center on Chicago.
“The major and majority part of what’s necessary needs to be in the city of Chicago and we have been supporting the city of Chicago with literally tens of millions of dollars directly as well as hundreds of millions of dollars indirectly,” he said at an unrelated news conference.
Pritzker also noted that the state has provided resources to suburban and downstate communities. While some cities have established shelter systems or aid networks, Pritzker noted that Chicago has much more infrastructure to assist recent arrivals.
“It is also where all of the services are that they need when they arrive,” Pritzker said. “It is also where the major landing zone, that we’ve paid for, to make sure that we’re welcoming them as appropriate to the city. And frankly the city has a shelter system like none other.”
Pritzker’s comments follow a back-and-forth between Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and the governor last week in which Johnson said the state could be exploring building a shelter outside the city.
Pritzker rejected the idea that he and the mayor’s administration are at odds over the response to the migrant, noting that senior staffers for the state, city and Cook County meet “every day” to discuss the subject, something Johnson echoed later in the day.
Also on Monday, Johnson announced the city would further delay the first evictions under the city’s 60-day limit for people staying in its shelter system, just days before evictions were set to begin. Shelter residents will be given extensions based on when they first arrived in the city’s shelter system.
“Our plan for temporary emergency shelters was never meant as a long-term housing solution,” Johnson said.
The Chicago mayor also noted that his administration and its allies will continue to lobby Congress for a federal solution to the nation’s struggling immigration system.
At a separate event in Springfield, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin noted that bipartisan discussions for federal immigration reform are underway among a group of senators who hope to reach a deal.
“There will be parts of it that I don’t like, but I’m going to vote for it because I know that we need to fix the problem,” Durbin said Monday. “We are being overwhelmed at our border.”
Any deal made in the Democratically controlled Senate would have to also be passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to become law, leaving an unclear future for any action coming from lawmakers in the nation’s capital.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.