Asylum Seekers From Texas Arrive at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Officials Say

Previously, asylum-seekers had been bussed to Chicago and other so-called "sanctuary cities," including Washington, D.C. and New York

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Officials in Chicago say that at least 12 asylum-seekers arrived at O’Hare International Airport this week, with all 12 being taken to a local police station after they told officers they had no access to shelter or food.

The individuals were taken by police to the District 16 office, according to Chicago officials.

It was not immediately clear whether they were flown to Chicago as part of the ongoing effort by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to send asylum seekers and migrants to so-called “sanctuary cities” across the U.S., a group that includes Chicago, New York and Washington D.C.

Chicago officials say that transportation was arranged for the asylum seekers to be taken to area hotels, and they were also connected to support services upon their arrival. Chicago officials had not been notified that the asylum-seekers would be arriving, a similar story that has played out as buses of migrants have arrived in the city in recent weeks.

In all, 509 migrants have arrived in Chicago as part of Texas’ efforts.

Pressure has been stepped up on the federal government to intervene after migrants were flown on multiple planes to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on the order of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week.

Like Abbott, DeSantis called the move a necessary one, saying that border states should not be required to solely bear the impact of the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers in the United States.

“Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens,” he told CNN. ‘It shouldn’t all fall on a handful of red states.”

Another group of migrants from Texas were bussed to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris.

“We’re sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job and secure the border,” Abbott said in a social media post.

Volunteers said that buses of migrants that have been sent to Washington D.C. have generally been routed to Union Station, but their arrival at the Naval Observatory took them off guard and resulted in individuals being forced to stand and sit outside until assistance could arrive.

“By the time our team got to the migrants, they were very lost,” Tatiana Laborde, director of SAMU First Response, told CNN. “The migrants didn’t understand where they were standing. This is a very residential area.”

 Democratic lawmakers have blasted the policies in recent days, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot terming the bussing strategy as “racist and xenophobic.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an emergency disaster proclamation Wednesday in an effort to assist the state with resources as Texas continues to bus groups of migrants to Chicago. NBC 5's Kate Chappell reports.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for an investigation into whether federal laws are being broken by DeSantis and Abbott.

“What (the governors) are doing isn’t clever. It’s cruel,” he said on social media. “I’m formally requesting the DOJ begin an immediate investigation into these inhumane efforts to use kids as political pawns.”

The federal government has provided assistance to cities, but hasn’t elaborated on any further plans to address the issue. Chicago officials have been among the Democratic lawmakers calling on the federal government and the Biden administration to step up their efforts to deal with the crisis.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has declared a state of emergency in the state to call up National Guard members to help cope with the new arrivals.

The actions of the Republican governors have been designed to target “sanctuary cities,” areas where law enforcement officials are ordered not to cooperate with immigration authorities, something codified in Chicago's "Welcoming City" ordinance.

Further, Chicago officials say that individuals will “not be asked about their immigration status,” and individuals will not be denied city services based on immigration status.

Other U.S. cities, including Washington D.C. and New York, have instituted similar policies.

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