State opens migrant shelter, Pritzker talks supplemental spending plan

State opens migrant shelter, Pritzker talks supplemental spending plan

More than 30,000 migrants have arrived in Illinois in the past year and a half


The state opened another shelter for migrants in Chicago on Wednesday, its latest step in dealing with an influx of more than 30,000 asylum seekers sent to Illinois from states on the southern U.S. Border since summer 2022.

The new shelter is slated to host about 220 migrants in a former CVS location in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. It’s part of a $160 million state spending plan for migrant assistance that Gov. JB Pritzker announced in November.

The new site is one of several that houses migrants, mostly from Venezuela, that have arrived in Chicago over the past year. Roughly 250 migrants are currently staying at O’Hare International Airport and another 280 people slept in city buses at a so-called “landing zone” facility in the South Loop.

Pritzker on Wednesday answered questions from reporters about the situation, which he blamed on a “cheap political stunt” from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been busing and flying migrants to Illinois with little to no notice.

Funding the state response to the situation has been a controversial topic in recent months. With a centralized federal response lacking, some have called on the state and city governments to increase their investments in migrant assistance. But lawmakers did not act on a supplemental spending plan in the legislature’s fall veto session – something Pritzker said he has discussed with legislative leadership in Springfield.

“Suffice to say, I’ve brought this up to leaders,” Pritzker said. “They haven’t wanted to bring it up yet. I do think it’s going to be important to deal with the costs here.”

In addition, Pritzker said his administration is exploring ways to deter bus companies and airlines from transporting more migrants to the city from the southern border.

“I don’t want to give away our strategy,” Pritzker said. “We’re trying to prevent those companies from leasing their planes to the state of Texas.”

So far, 30,000 migrants have arrived in Illinois from buses originating in Texas and another roughly 4,300 have arrived via airplane, according to City of Chicago data.

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