May 3, 2023 - News

Chicago reaches a breaking point with Texas' migrant busing

Chartered buses for transporting migrants to Chicago are parked outside the Migrant Welcome Center in El Paso, Texas, in September 2022. Photo: Paul Ratje/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Buses sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have brought hundreds more asylum-seeking migrants to Chicago in recent weeks.

Why it matters: According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city is out of space and resources to help them.

Context: On Sunday, Lightfoot sent a letter to Abbott calling his actions "inhumane and dangerous" and saying the city is "tapped out."

The other side: "If Chicago can't deal with 8,000 in less than a year, how are small Texas border communities supposed to manage 13,000 in just one day?" Abbott wrote in his response letter.

Yes, but: Texas gets money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the influx of migrants seeking asylum. Chicago does not.

State of play: New asylum seekers have overwhelmed the southern U.S. border in recent days in preparation for the May 11 expiration of the COVID-19 policy that has restricted border access.

The latest: With shelters full, the city has been housing migrants at police stations in recent weeks, where they've reported bedbug infestations and being fed expired food.

  • The situation is also rough for police working there, FOP president John Catanzara says, noting cases of chickenpox and lice.
Photo of people waiting in line for clothes
Migrants wait for clothes at a store run by Park Community Church in West Ridge. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

What they're saying: Reverend Luisette Kraal started feeding migrants at police stations last summer with volunteers and she says recently the situation has changed drastically. 

  • "When we started the migrants would be at the station three or four hours to be processed, but now they stay as long as seven or even 14 days," she told Axios as she distributed clothing to new arrivals at her church's New Neighbors center in West Ridge Tuesday night.

Zoom out: Chicago's 8,000 migrants pales in comparison to 57,000 in New York City, where Mayor Eric Adams says his city "is being destroyed by the migrant crisis."

What's ahead: The White House said Tuesday that it's sending 1,500 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to address a possible surge this month.


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