(The Center Square) – Illinois will be diverting $160 million more in taxpayer funds to help care for the growing number of migrants arriving from the southern U.S. border, a move some state legislators are questioning.
The state has seen more than 24,000 non-citizens arrive over the past 15 months, which has led to the state spending hundreds of millions taxpayer dollars to care for them.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state’s plan, which includes an additional $160 million investment through the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Pritzker said the funds will be in response to issues he has seen.
“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.
State Rep. David Friess, R-Red Bud, told The Center Square that the state should be using taxpayer dollars to care for taxpayers, not non-citizens.
“We have people who need housing; we have people who need to be fed. Everyone has issues, but in Chicago, this is a real issue,” Friess said. “Here we are spending millions and millions of dollars on people who are here illegally.”
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.
“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.”
State Sen. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, is calling for Pritzker to reconsider his plans.
“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,” Chesney said.
Chesney said the issues the state is facing is from its own doing.
“The flow of migrants into Chicago is a direct response to weak border and immigration policies and state-level leadership that has repeatedly rolled out the welcome mat for non-citizens. I do not support the use of taxpayer funds to assist with the crisis at our border and in Chicago.”
Illinois has spent more than $500 million to care for the migrants since they arrived.