Chicago to house migrants in tents, mayor open to budget cuts like NYC

Chicago is projected to spend more than $250 million on migrants in 2023 alone. 

Published: September 12, 2023 9:10am

Chicago is setting up tents to house an influx of illegal migrants, more than 1,500 of whom have been sleeping in police stations for months, as Mayor Brandon Johnson says he is open to budget cuts similar to New York City to address the growing crisis.

"The City Council was briefed on the Mayor's plan to establish military grade tent basecamps in order to decompress police stations, whose floors are where over 1,500 asylum seekers will be sleeping tonight, as they have for months," Chicago Alderman Andre Vasquez said after a meeting Friday, the Center Square reported Monday.

Chicago is projected to spend more than $250 million on migrants in 2023 alone. 

"I believe that it is important that everything is on the table, that's my position," Johnson said Friday about the city's budget conversations. "As far as how I am thinking about it, it really is about making sure the priorities that we set position us to grow our economy in the budgets to come."

Notably, Johnson's mayoral campaign platform stated that Chicago "must work to expand our status as a sanctuary city and support a more accessible path to citizenship for all." The platform also said the city must ensure that "everyone is welcome here" and "commit to take care of each other and provide all of our neighbors with the resources they need to thrive."

Chicago and Illinois have already allocated $94 million in taxpayer dollars for migrant housing, and the state budget includes $550 million in taxpayer subsidies for migrants over the age of 65 to receive health care.

In addition to housing migrants in police stations, the city has also used YMCA buildings, colleges and an airport as about 14,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago over the past year.

"Let me state this clearly, the city of Chicago can not go on welcoming new arrivals safely and capably without significant support and immigration policy changes," Johnson said late last month when he expressed concerns that the city would be unable to take care of the migrants without federal assistance.

Similarly, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said last week that he does not see an "ending to" the migrant problem, which "will destroy New York City."

Adams over the weekend told city agency heads that they will need to slash their budgets by 15% before next spring to offset the costs of caring for more than 61,000 migrants. While New York City's population is more than three times larger than Chicago, the Big Apple has seen nearly eight times the number of migrants as the Illinois city, with more than 110,000 asylum seekers flooding in over the past year.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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