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Suburban mayor shuts down plan to take migrants from Chicago

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(The Center Square) – Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson says the city of Chicago has had conversations with suburban leaders in Cook and other counties about the possibility of moving migrants into their communities. However, some suburban leaders have voiced their concerns.

Thousands of migrant families have arrived in Chicago over the past year. City officials have placed many in police stations, YMCAs and Daley College.

Recently, Johnson said the city is looking for other towns to help with housing migrants.

“We’ve had conversations with mayors across not just Cook County but the surrounding counties, and we have had tremendous feedback,” Johnson said Monday. “We see some real support on the horizon.”

Keith Pekau, the Republican mayor of Orland Park, a Cook County suburb of more than 57,000 people, told The Center Square that he is not on board with the idea.

“None of us have the resources for this. We do not have health departments. We do not have that kind of stuff,” Pekau said. “[Gov. J.B. Pritzker] has called us a sanctuary state, right? Here’s the deal, at the state level, the state has been ripping all the municipalities off by the Local Government Distributive Fund since prior to Pritzker.”

Many Illinois suburbs do not have the funds to take care of the migrants, he said.

“Municipalities have been getting screwed by the state of Illinois. Our residents are helping them [the state] pay for things off their own backs that they don’t even know about,” Pekau said. “Keep in mind how Pritzker attacks all the municipalities for property taxes and everything else but guess what? You are taking away money from them first.”

Pekau also criticized Johnson and President Joe Biden for what he said was a violation of U.S. law.

“I think, at a high level, it is very simple. Joe Biden is putting his nose in the air to our laws and is violating our laws at the border,” Pekau said. “Brandon Johnson and his city have supported this, and he and the Cook County Board want them to be a sanctuary city, and that violates our laws as well.”

Just this month, Johnson said that Chicago would remain open for those that wish to come there, reaffirming the city’s stance as a “sanctuary city” or a jurisdiction with lax local enforcement of federal immigration laws.

“Here’s what I am committed to doing, honoring the law of being a sanctuary city and building systems of care that provide a pathway with dignity for individuals who are seeking refuge here in the city of Chicago,” Johnson said.

Around 12,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago from the southern U.S. border in the past year. So far, city and state taxpayers have set aside $94 million for migrant housing. The state budget has $550 million in taxpayer subsidies for health care of migrants over the age of 65.

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