Chicago Migrants

Multiple City Council members part of Chicago delegation visiting Texas border amid migrant crisis

They are a part of a larger group of leaders from Illinois meeting with border patrol, partners and non profits to help with coordination at border

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A delegation from Illinois is in Texas this week visiting El Paso, San Antonio, McAllen and Brownsville as part of a larger effort from the Mayor's office to gain a better understanding of the migrant crisis at the border.

25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 4th Ward Ald. Lamont Robinson and 6th Ward Ald. William Hall are representing the Chicago City Council on the trip.

"This is a federal crisis lacking federal funds," Alderman Hall told NBC Chicago from Texas. "That’s why we need the President of the United States to level the playing field and allow our city to be seen as a disaster zone."

That declaration could bring more federal assistance to Chicago to help with the migrant crisis.

“If Chicago is a destination, we need the federal government to see this as a housing crisis, an infrastructure crisis, a border crisis," Hall said.

Alderman Sigcho-Lopez spoke with NBC Chicago from his San Antonio Hotel Wednesday night, agreeing in calling for the federal government to declare Chicago as a disaster zone for help.

"We want to make sure we ask the federal government for support so that we can welcome new residents and also address the current needs we have in the city of Chicago," Sigcho-Lopez said.

The City Council members spent the day touring base camps and shelters in El Paso, discovering that the area is not typically a spot migrants stay at for long.

"El Paso now has a different role," said Alderman Hall. "Only 1% of those who cross the border stay, and they want to settle in Chicago."

Despite hearing Chicago is overcrowded and getting colder, the delegation was told those crossing the border are determined to go to larger cities.

“They told us flat-out that no matter what, those who are crossing the border are determined," Hall said. "You can tell them whatever you want, but they are focused on getting to Chicago, New York and the lands of other opportunities."

Sigcho-Lopez said he believes the trip will be a launching point for more coordination at the border, especially after meeting with nonprofits and local leaders in El Paso.

"That coordination will prevent tragedies when people arrive in Chicago without knowing what the weather is even," he said.

The delegation will report back to the Mayor Johnson's office once they return.

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