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Chicago City Council approves $51 million for migrant care

More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago from the southern border over the past nine months.

Published: May 31, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

The city of Chicago is appropriating millions of dollars more to deal with the influx of migrants coming from the southern border.

The additional $51 million in appropriation comes from opioid and vaping settlement funds and is expected to last a few months. After contentious debate, the measure passed Wednesday.

Chicago Alderman David Moore voted against the spending. During debate, he said the city must look out for itself before its spends taxpayer dollars on migrants.

"I'm reminded of when a flight attendant on a plane says in an emergency, make sure you put your mask on first before you help someone else," Moore said. "If you die, you cannot be a blessing to anyone else."

Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said the funding would help people who need it most and that the funding is small compared to police spending for misconduct.

"If we can pay the $51 million so that our kids do not go hungry, it's peanuts compared to the $1 billion the city of Chicago pays for police misconduct settlements," Sigcho-Lopez said.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said his administration will do what it takes to care for those newly arrived to the city.

“My administration will do everything in our power to support these new arrivals as they work to rebuild their lives in the U.S," he said.

Illinois Legislators passed the state's budget last weekend. It includes $43 million from state taxpayers for the issue in Chicago. The state budget also provides taxpayer subsidies for some migrant health care.

State Rep. Adam Neimerg, R-Dieterich, told The Center Square that Chicago has let the problem get out of control and is now costing Illinoisans money.

"We should be putting Illinois first and not be putting Illinois last, and that's exactly what we are doing with this budget," Niemerg said. "We are a sanctuary state. Chicago is a sanctuary city, and just last year, we shut down the [Immigration and Custom Enforcement] facilities and limited law enforcement's ability to apprehend illegal immigrants or ask their federal immigration status. Now we see $1.1 billion on the table to fund illegal immigrants' health care, which doesn't even count the welcoming centers."

Niemerg warned the $51 million on top of what Chicago has already spent for housing migrants, and the $43 million the state has approved, is just the beginning.

"I would be asking where are these illegal immigrants going to be housed, what facilities are going to be used, what dollars in addition to the $1.1 billion in health care are we going to be spending as a state because the budget is not balanced," Niemerg said.

More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago from the southern border over the past nine months.

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