Jun 4, 2024 - News

How Biden's border clampdown could impact Chicago

PHoto of the back of a woman wearing a bag

A migrant waits outside a shelter on the Lower West Side on March 4, 2024. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Local immigrant advocates and officials are offering mixed responses to President Biden's tougher U.S.-Mexico border rules announced Tuesday through an executive order.

Why it matters: The policy could slow the number of migrants arriving on buses from Texas ahead of the Democratic National Convention in August, but it's facing pushback from both ends of the political spectrum.

Context: Chicago has received more than 40,000 migrants, mostly bused from Texas, since 2022.

  • Shelter populations have been hovering around 7,000 in recent weeks, down from a high of 14,500 in December.

Zoom in: Most migrants who illegally cross the border will be blocked from asylum and could face fast-tracked deportation, according to U.S. officials.

  • One senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that removal to Mexico or a migrant's home country could happen within a few hours under the new order.
  • Once illegal border crossings fall below a daily average of 1,500 in a week, the normal border process with increased access to asylum would resume two weeks later.

Flashback: The order mirrors a bipartisan border deal struck earlier this year, which Republicans killed at the direction of former President Trump.

  • Trump is aiming to again focus his presidential campaign on the border issue, which ranks high among concerns for voters.

What they're saying: "As President Joe Biden has said, our reliance on a nearly 40-year-old immigration process is inadequate for effectively and humanely addressing today's challenges," Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "Congress has the responsibility to provide meaningful reform — reform that includes permanent solutions for Dreamers, spouses of American citizens and long-term workers."

Yes, but: City Council immigration committee chair Ald. Andre Vásquez tells Axios he would prefer to see Biden address the root causes of Venezuelan migration by lifting U.S. sanctions that have hurt the economy, and expand work permits to those already here "so they can be an economic boost rather than an economic drain" on Chicago.

The other side: "By taking a page directly from the Trump playbook and enacting cruel policies on vulnerable people for political reasons, Biden has chosen counterproductive actions that put families and communities in harm's way," Lawrence Benito, executive director of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, tells Axios.

The Chicago-based American Business Immigration Coalition, meanwhile, is pressing for executive orders granting legal work status to millions of Dreamers and undocumented family members of U.S. citizens who have been living and working here for years.

  • "If the Biden-Harris administration feels they must take executive action on the border, then they can and should swiftly do the same for our nation's mixed-status families and Dreamers who are too young to qualify for DACA," ABIC executive director Rebecca Shi said in a statement.

What's next: The restrictions are similar to actions taken by Trump, which were struck down in court.


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