Chicago Migrants

‘Going to see it firsthand': Johnson to visit Southern US border to assess migrant situation

More than 17,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago since August of 2022

Mayor Brandon Johnson said Wednesday he plans to make his own trip to the Mexican border — as soon as he can arrange it with his wife and kids — to see for himself the unfolding disaster creating havoc and hardship in Chicago.

“We need to go assess the situation — just like our team has gone to D.C. We need better coordination, quite frankly,” Johnson said.

“I recognize what our Southern states are dealing with, so going to see it firsthand” makes sense.

Johnson recently had an eye-opening meeting with Mexican leaders.

“2,500 or so families who are seeking asylum reach the southern tip of Mexico. By the time they get to the northern tip of Mexico right on the border of our country, that 2,500 amasses to anywhere from 7,500 individuals to 10,000. This is serious,” Johnson said.

By mid-afternoon, 14 buses had arrived in Chicago on Wednesday amid word that up to eight more might be on the way. More than 17,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the city since last year.

Chicago’s role as host of the 2024 Democratic National Convention has put a bullseye on the city’s back, with Republican leaders determined to embarrass the city by overwhelming it with a growing caravan of buses.

“That’s why I’ve been standing up a brand new shelter every single week. We’ve renegotiated a contract that I inherited multiple times to cut the costs on services,” he said. And the city is “prepared to drive stakes in the ground” to build the planned “base camps” of giant tents to house more asylum-seekers.

“It’s a tremendous sacrifice for the people of Chicago. And I certainly know how hard it has been for the people of Chicago. But … without action, the type of chaos that the Republican Party is causing is going to be greater.”

Johnson said he’s not surprised Chicago’s migrant crisis has been exacerbated by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent plan to ignore the city’s 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew and send buses to Chicago around the clock.

“This is the same party that tried to overturn an election. You can’t put anything past these individuals. So absolutely they want to punish Chicago for being the greatest freakin’ city in the world,” he said.

“But, we’re going to … make sure that we’re showing up for people who have needed the government to respond to their critical needs for generations now. That’s why I’m making sure that we have mental health services. Bringing Chicago Home. Abolishing the sub-minimum wage. That as much as I’m concerned about this issue, I have not stopped leading on my values. And I won’t.”

Johnson disclosed that a team from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrived in Chicago Wednesday to assess the situation.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that those who want to disrupt our democracy are committed to doing that. It’s a real mission of theirs,” the mayor said.

“Our hope is that we will continue to get more resources and a stronger commitment from the federal government to be able to provide us with the support that the people of Chicago need.”

Earlier this week, Johnson’s plan to turn Amundsen Park field house into a shelter for 200 migrants faced tremendous pushback from Galewood residents and local Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th).

Taliaferro said the burgeoning crisis is raising historic tensions between Blacks and Latinos to a boil.

The us-vs.-them debate is no surprise to Johnson. But he cautioned reporters not to misinterpret the tension.

“I know where I live. I know how many schools have been shut down in Austin, mental health clinics. Administration after administration has taken away from Black people. Not mine,” he said.

“When individuals say that Black folks want what migrants want, that’s not true. It’s not. Black folks want what they deserve.”

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