CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker slammed his Texas counterpart Monday as the Southern state continues to send busloads of migrants to Chicago.
Texas has sent hundreds of migrants in four groups to Chicago since the end of August, part of what Gov. Greg Abbott has called a protest of federal immigration policies. But local leaders have said Abbott and his administration refuse to communicate with them about what the asylum seekers need when they arrive or even when they’re going to get to Chicago, making it difficult to prepare.
“We’re managing as best we can, but the governor of Texas is sowing chaos around the nation,” Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference Monday. “The governor of Texas needs to stop sowing chaos and needs to actually work with states.”
Local leaders and Abbott’s administration have been at loggerheads over how to deal with the crisis. Pritzker officials have tried to contact their peers in Texas to ask about the migrants who are arriving in Chicago and what their needs will be, but Texas leaders don’t respond, he said.
That’s made it more challenging to figure out what sort of medical care and housing the migrants will need — or even if they wanted to go to Chicago, Pritzker said. Some have told Block Club they planned to continue on to different states where they have relatives or friends.
“Let’s make sure these people want to actually go to the states they’re being sent to; otherwise, it’s kidnapping,” Pritzker said.
Typically, governors and legislators collaborate across states, Pritzker said.
“This is all a political game for Gov. Abbott — and, frankly, it’s cruel,” he said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has similarly taken aim at Abbott, saying his actions are racist, xenophobic and inhumane. She’s also criticized Texas leaders for not coordinating with the city about the migrants being sent here.
Illinois has gotten as little as three hours’ notice about a bus of migrants arriving, forcing local leaders to scramble to arrange temporary housing, Pritzker said. That’s also led to some suburban mayors complaining about migrants arriving in Chicago who are then sheltered in surrounding towns with no notice.
But those steps have been necessary because Chicago is getting such late notice about the arrival of migrants, Pritzker said.
“We need to find them shelter nearly immediately, and the shelters in the city of Chicago sometimes get filled,” Pritzker said. “And the result is there need to be shelters found in other places.
“Look, the city of Chicago is doing the best they can; we’re providing resources for the city of Chicago and for these refugees and asylum seekers. We give notices as fast we can.”
The migrants are largely coming from Central and South America, and they include individuals and families seeking a better life in the United States, officials said. Lightfoot has said the city is getting help from the county and state to deal with the influx of refugees, but the city will need federal aid to keep up.
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