Oct 11, 2023 - News

Migrant crisis challenges mount for Mayor Brandon Johnson

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mayor Brandon Johnson is expected to unveil a budget plan today to address the city's $538 million deficit, about $200 million of which comes from migrant aid spending.

Why it matters: This deficit offers a strong reminder of how the escalating migrant crisis is challenging the grand plans Johnson outlined on the campaign trail for a bold, progressive agenda — one that may take more time to achieve than he had thought.

What's happening: Several alders are pressuring the Johnson administration to address what they say are poor living conditions at some migrant shelters and police stations.

  • Meanwhile, the mayor's office still has not selected a start date or locations for a plan to move migrants into tented "base camps." The administration is considering backup plans, the Tribune reports.
  • This all comes as the city faces a lawsuit from South Shore residents seeking to block the city from housing migrants in public buildings, including schools.

What they're saying: Alds. Brendan Reilly and Brian Hopkins are so shocked by the "deplorable" situation at Streeterville's Inn of Chicago shelter that they're calling for its closing, Block Club reports.

  • Ald. Nicole Lee sent a letter to Johnson about the "untenable" situation at the police district on Halsted and 31st, where she says nearly 300 people have been living at a time.
  • In the letter, Lee suggests the city send representatives to the border to combat disinformation about resources in Chicago. Johnson says he plans to do just that.

The latest: This week, the city halted plans to open a shelter at the Amundsen Park Fieldhouse on the far West Side after pushback from locals.

  • Some raised concerns about the loss of park district programming for kids, as well as inadequate heating and space for migrants, per the Sun-Times.

What we're watching: The Biden administration is resuming deportation flights for Venezuelans who have not qualified for protection, but it remains unclear how the new order will affect those in Chicago, if at all.

What's ahead: Tomorrow the city will hold a community meeting on a proposed migrant shelter in Ukrainian Village, an area that has welcomed thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

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