Chicago and Illinois announce plan for more migrant aid spending as temps drop

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(The Center Square) – While Chicago has introduced a budget that includes more funding for the ongoing migrant crisis, on Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out the state’s funding plan.

Chicago will set aside an additional $150 million to help shelter and care for the influx of noncitizen arrivals.

The state has seen over 24,000 arrive over the last 15 months.

Johnson said the funding is to address an “international crisis.”

“To welcome new arrivals and address this local, state, federal, and international crisis, our budget invests $150 million into our mission to support new arrivals from the southern border,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the budget is a three-part plan for care.

Pritzker also announced Thursday the state’s plan, including an additional $160 million investment through the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The funds will help fix issues they have seen when caring for the arrivals.

“The state, alongside our local partners, has led a comprehensive data-driven analysis of the ongoing asylum seeker response, rooted in not only data but also input from frontline partners and new arrivals, which identified several ‘bottlenecks’ where services and resettlement tended to slow,” Pritzker said. “These bottlenecks included delays in initial intake at landing sites, access to shelter, and the transition to independent living. This has led to backlogs and capacity issues, most visible in individuals sleeping outside police stations, but more broadly across the process.”

The state funding breaks down to $30 million for a large intake center, $65 million to help Chicago launch a winterized shelter site and $65 million in increased funding to expand the wraparound services for the shelters.

Pritzker said the state is doing what needs to be done.

“From the state that has met hundreds of millions of dollars, in state funding for shelter, staff, food, healthcare, transportation, rental assistance, direct funding to the city of Chicago and more,” Pritzker said. “It is what has been required to meet this moment.”

The funding will include 16 warming buses to keep the noncitizens warm during the winter, and the city has set aside $29 million for military-grade tents.

Johnson, acknowledging the city has spent a sizeable amount on migrant aid to date, said he still is hoping for the Federal government to provide financial help.

“We need the federal government to do more, the state of Illinois, they understand what our requests and what the assignment is as a sanctuary state is,” Johnson said.

On top of the millions set aside in the budget, Illinois has already suspended new enrollment for a program intended to provide taxpayer-subsidized health care to the influx of noncitizen arrivals over the age of 65. The program is already up to $831.6 million in projected taxpayer costs.

Illinois has spent over $500 million to care for the migrants since they arrived.

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