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Migrant influx to Illinois being felt in downstate communities

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(The Center Square) – The migrant crisis in Illinois is prompting some policymakers around the state to take action.

Tens of thousands of migrants have been transported to the state from the southern U.S. border. The city of Chicago reports about 33,000 asylum seekers have arrived since August 2022.

The state of Illinois has provided $640 million to address the migrant influx. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said the city is facing a projected $538 million budget deficit for 2024, a financial burden his administration blamed in part on the growing cost of caring for migrants.

Now that Chicago is impounding buses for dropping off migrants, some buses have made the drop off in other communities around the state.

McLean County board member Chuck Erickson introduced a measure that would ban the use of county tax dollars to support migrants that may be dropped off in the central Illinois county.

“A lot of these sanctuary cities are starting to say enough, and other places are starting to say enough, because we don’t have the resources to take care of it all,” Erickson told The Center Square.

The board rejected that proposal by a 13 to 7 vote.

Grundy County has declared itself a non-sanctuary county and went as far as posting signs on the interstate warning bus drivers not to stop in their towns. The signs have since been taken down.

A group of Republican state lawmakers is introducing a package of bills in connection with the mounting costs of migrant care. State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, said Illinoisans should not have to pick up the tab for migrant health care.

“With the bills mounting on their table, trying to pay for health insurance, yet you come here illegally and you get health insurance,” Cabello said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

State Senator Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley, said Illinois is one of only two states that is providing health care for migrants.

“This legislation sends a message that Illinois is not the sanctuary state to come to for free health care,” Syverson said.

Included in the bill package would be the elimination of the TRUST Act, which prohibits local police agencies in Illinois from contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when investigating cases of illegal immigration.

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