(The Center Square) – As even more non-citizens arrived in Chicago over the weekend, some are calling for changes to the nation’s border policies to help ease the burden and to avoid the use of “tent cities.”
Major cities across the country have dealt with millions of non-citizen arrivals over the past couple of years. Chicago has seen nearly 14,000 arrivals in the past 12 months who have been scattered across the city living in police stations, hotels and YMCAs, among other places. Twelve more buses arrived over the weekend, according to WGN.
Paul Vallas, who finished second to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson in the 2023 election, said there needs to be more attention paid to securing the southern U.S. border.
“You need to be cooperating with the federal government on enforcing immigration laws. That will help slow the number of individuals coming to the city,” Vallas said.
President Joe Biden has faced growing criticism over his loosening of border security measures since he first ook office.
Chicago and the state of Illinois, along with other mostly Democratic-run cities across the country dealing with an influx of non-citizens, consider themselves “sanctuary cities,” where federal immigration enforcement is relaxed by local officials. In Illinois, local police are prohibited from enforcing immigration detention orders if that is the sole reason to go after a suspect.
Earlier this month, Chicago signed a contract with GardaWorld Federal services to provide military-grade tents to use as housing for non-citizen arrivals for a total of $29 million.
Vallas and others have suggested that the city could have avoided spending even more money on tents by forming partnerships with different industry leaders.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said landlords in the city could house the arrivals.
“They’re using the money right now, so it is not a question of whether or not they have the money,” Ford said. “You pay the landlords up front for these units and you would also be responsible for the move-in and moving out of these tenants.”
Other ideas include reopening former mental health facilities.
“There are thousands of vacant residential units, both single units and multifamily units. Why can’t those facilities be secured by the city and accessed,” Vallas asked. “You still have these mental health centers. What about the mental health centers the state holds, Tinley Park and elsewhere?”
Both Johnson and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have urged the Biden administration to provide more federal funding to care for the non-citizen arrivals.