Apr 22, 2024 - News

💰 Migrant spending kerfuffle

Illustration of a checkmark that turns into a series of dollar signs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Another $70 million for migrant aid got City Council approval Friday after a long, contentious debate.

Why it matters: The move marks a reversal for Mayor Brandon Johnson, who requested the new spending after disavowing it in February. And some alders worry it will draw more new arrivals to the already overwhelmed city.

The big picture: The $70 million joins $150 million already earmarked for migrant programs in the 2024 budget. Johnson says the funds are needed to handle a potential surge of buses ahead of the Democratic National Convention.

  • "If we don't invest now, then the type of chaos that the governor of Texas and former President Trump want will happen," Johnson said.

The other side: Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who opposed the funds, argued, "If you cut the funding spigot, [migrants] won't come."

Even those who voted "yes" expressed frustration with multimillion-dollar migrant contracts the city has signed with companies like GardaWorld and Favorite Healthcare Staffing.

  • "We're paying Ritz-Carlton prices for Super 8 services," said Ald. Nicole Lee (11th), who voted yes.

Between the lines: The vote highlighted continued tensions between some Black and Latino alders. But Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) warned fighting and withholding funds only helps those trying to "divide us" before the DNC.

  • "Do you want to see 11,000 people inside of shelters or outside of buildings?" he asked. "[Migrants] do not disappear because the money doesn't show up."

Ald. Desmon Yancy, whose 5th Ward has the city's highest eviction rate, voted yes with weariness, saying:

  • "Black people in this city have [again] been put in a position to vote against our interests with a lose-lose proposition that asks us to be noble ... and wait on help that may never come."

What's ahead

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