CITY HALL — Three alderpeople blocked an attempt to allocate city funding to the newly arrived migrants in Chicago.
The $51 million in surplus funds was intended for staffing, food, transportation and legal services at temporary shelters. But alds. Anthony Beale (9th), Raymond Lopez (15th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st) moved to defer and publish the measure Wednesday — a procedural move that delays a vote on the matter until a future City Council meeting.
The measure passed a key City Council committee earlier this month, the same day former Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared a state of emergency. Alderpeople will have another chance to pass it during the next City Council meeting scheduled for May 31.
This was the first City Council meeting presided over by Mayor Brandon Johnson with a slate of newly elected alderpeople.
The push for more funding comes as Chicago faces a “humanitarian crisis” due to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sending Central and South American migrants to Chicago, pushing the city’s shelter system to its limit. Hundreds of migrants have been sleeping at police stations in recent weeks while the city has been trying to find large facilities to turn into shelters and respite centers, such as park facilities.
City officials have said nearly 9,000 migrants have arrived since August, with about 700 arriving daily.
The city has only received about $10 million from the federal government, despite requesting much more, officials have said. About $30 million has been granted from the state, including $20 million which was the subject of intense debate at a previous City Council meeting.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Beale said there needs to be another approach to supporting newly arrived asylum-seekers besides city funding. He said “that kind of money” should be going directly to communities.
“When I have Ms. Johnson who can’t get a porch, or Ms. Jackson who can’t get a furnace and can’t get basic needs … but then we can find $51 million when people who pay taxes their entire life are being denied resources, I have a problem with that,” Beale said.
“This money will be gone in 45 days, but if you put that $51 million in our community, it can help people for generations and generations to come. So you might as well take that $51 million and set a match to it because it’s going to be burned up.”
City officials have said the $51 million may only last through June.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th), whose been a staunch advocate for the newly arrived migrants, said he’s confident the funding will pass on the next try.
“The votes are there to pass that $51 million, and we will be back next Wednesday,” he said.
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