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Pritzker asks other Illinois communities to house growing number of non-citizens

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(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker is asking communities outside of Chicago to help house and provide services to the continuing flow of non-citizen arrivals totaling at least 15,000.

Dozens of buses carrying the migrants have arrived in Chicago over the past year. Just this week, the Chicago Tribune reports 27 buses carrying non-citizen arrivals have come since Saturday.

At an unrelated event in Chicago Thursday, Pritzker blamed Republican governors, but was confronted with even Democratic El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser sending migrants.

“You know that they’re sending, nope, they’re doing it because they’re sending them to areas where they think that people will take care of them and where people will put the resources forward because this is a humanitarian crisis,” Pritzker said. “But the reality is that states that are controlled by Republicans ought to be offering the same services.”

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for lax border security efforts and millions of foreign nationals crossing the southern U.S. border, many of them illegally. With their own resources stretched thin, border states and local communities have been sending the non-citizens to so-called “sanctuary cities.” New York is dealing with more than 50,000 recent non-citizen arrivals.

Chicago and Illinois are considered sanctuary cities for non-citizens migrants because of laws and policies Democrats at the statehouse have in place restricting cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The city and state are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the crisis on things ranging from housing, to food, to health care and education.

Pritzker said the state is working with both federal and Chicago officials to get taxpayer resources where they’re needed. As for the city’s plan to spend nearly $30 million for military-grade basecamp tents for the coming winter months, Pritzker said he’s shared his concerns.

“With a lack of existing buildings to put people in, I know the city has looked at this as one of its options,” Pritzker said.

Chicago neighborhood groups have shared frustrations with the growing number of migrants being housed in their neighborhoods and the drain on resources.

“We have no more room,” Zoe Leigh told ABC7. “You all are embarrassing Chicago as a whole.”

At an unrelated news conference Thursday, Pritzker asked other communities from throughout the state to volunteer.

“I hope that cities will raise their hands and offer assistance,” Pritzker said. “We have provided grant opportunities for cities that will do that.”

But, he’s hedging expectations.

“So when you think about ‘let’s just move them into the wide open spaces of rural Illinois,’ that’s not going to happen because these folks do need help and those kids need to go to schools and some of those schools are not big enough to handle the number of kids.”

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave Venezuelans here prior to July 31, 2023, temporary protected status from deportation and the ability to get work permits.

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