Illinois' Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded through a letter that President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas "take swift action and intervene" in the border crisis that has caused the arrival of more than 15,000 asylum seekers to his state. Pritzker said that Illinois has already spent more than $300 million, on top of the $100 million already spent in Chicago, the most affected city in the state. He further said that the situation is "untenable" for The Prairie State. His proposals include the creation of a position in the federal government to oversee the nation's efforts on border security, as well as accelerating the approval of work permits for illegal immigrants, even eliminating fees.
Pritzker criticizes 'governors and mayors from border states' who send migrants to other areas
The governor opens his letter with harsh criticism of the "governors and mayors from border states" who "have shipped people to our state like cargo in a dehumanizing attempt to score political points." Pritzker claimed that 15,000 people have already arrived in buses to Illinois without receiving any help from the Biden administration. The letter also states that "the federal government's lack of intervention and coordination at the border," has put Illinois in "an untenable situation."
The humanitarian crisis is overwhelming our ability to provide aid to the refugee population. Unfortunately, the welcome and aid Illinois has been providing to these asylum seekers has not been matched with support by the federal government. Most critically, the federal government's lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois. ... There is much more that can and must be done on a federal level to address a national humanitarian crisis that is currently being shouldered by state and local governments without support.
More than $300 million spent on the immigration crisis
According to Pritzker's calculations, his government has spent more than $300 million in maintaining the undocumented immigrants who have arrived to the state. This does not include the $100 million from the city of Chicago. The problem with hosting the huge number of asylum seekers, he explains: "Though we have found temporary housing in existing buildings for a majority of the refugees, we are challenged to find additional housing for the continuous flow of people who keep coming and are now forced to sleep in police stations and on sidewalks. This situation is untenable and requires your immediate help beyond the coming work authorizations for some of the asylum seekers."
The governor proposed a series of measures to the president, starting with the creation of a position in the federal government for border oversight, similar to that established by Greg Abbott in Texas. "First and foremost, I recommend that there be one person in the federal government who works directly for you in the White House who can lead the oversight of our nation’s efforts at the border. Right now, we have too many different federal department contacts —who are uncoordinated with one another— that handle various programs related to this humanitarian crisis," the letter states.
Pritzker demands that the Biden administration equitably distribute the effort among the states
He also demanded that the federal government intervene to distribute immigrants equitably among states so that a few are not left to bear the brunt of the crisis. Furthermore, he lamented how border authorities who decide where to send asylum seekers are doing so on a partisan basis.
Furthermore, Pritzker proposed waiving fees for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applications; a significant increase in coordination of logistics and data collection; providing financial aid to states, local governments and charities for temporary housing, food and social services; further expediting timelines for employment authorization; approving applications in Illinois for exemptions from Medicaid, housing vouchers; and federal coordination and support.
The White House blames Republicans for blocking immigration policy reform
A White House spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times that immigration policy reform must come from Congress, something the Biden administration has insisted since day one. The spokesperson said that Republican politicians have blocked the $4 billion requested by the Department of Homeland Security intended to manage the border. In addition, it was noted that the federal government had provided $46 million in grants to Illinois and Chicago to help with the economic impact caused by the wave of immigrants.
Without the help of Congress, the Administration has been taking action: since May 12, we have removed or returned over a quarter-million individuals. We have moved to accelerate the processing of work permits — working to decrease the median processing time for many from 90 days to 30 days. We have sent more than 1.4 million emails and text messages to migrants that are eligible to work, reminding them to apply for work permits. And we have provided communities across the country who are supporting recently arrived migrants with all of the $1 billion in grant funding that Congress appropriated.