(The Center Square) – At an event Tuesday night at the University of Chicago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the migrant situation as a failure. At the same time, residents in Joliet voiced their outrage with their city officials about migrants coming to their town.
In Chicago, Pritzker joined students from UC and took questions from the crowd.
Pritzker was asked how he views the current situation in Chicago regarding the more than 16,000 non-citizens who have arrived over the past 13 months.
“Asylum seekers are legal in this country, right? We have undocumented immigrants, and then we have documented asylum seekers,” Pritzker said. “We need to manage all of that, and it has been a failure of Republicans and Democrats.”
The governor has proposed sending $8.6 million to the city of Joliet to help them house and provide food to nearly 1,900 non-citizen arrivals who would then be moved there.
At a Joliet township meeting, residents voiced their displeasure with city officials even though they have yet to accept any money from the state.
“As of today, Joliet township has not accepted the $8.6 million grant. Nothing has been finalized, and we are here to listen to your concerns,” township supervisor Angel Contreras said. “Any future plans will be brought to all members of elected bodies and open discussion and public input.”
Joliet resident Brian Beck told the city council members that they need to create a plan to remove the 2,200 non-citizen arrivals already there.
“If you want to come up with solutions, come up with solutions on how we can move these people out of here,” Beck told the board. “We have enough problems and that’s clear by the conditions of the roads in this city.”
In Chicago, Pritzker said it is the state’s duty to care for them.
“It is all about having comprehensive immigration reform, but in the absence of that, we as a state need to help manage and help these folks get an education and get a job, legally,” Pritzker said.
Steve Dieden told the Joliet city council that it is their duty to listen to the taxpayers.
“The township, you guys are to come here and sit at that table with your mouth shut, and these people are to come here to and join together as township citizens and tell you what they want done in this community,” Dieden said. “Not for you to dictate to us what’s best for us.”
Many non-citizen arrivals have been scattered across Chicago, living in police stations, hotels, and YMCAs, among other places. Last month, the city 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.