Immigration crisis puts more pressure on Chicago finances as national budget falls short of expectations | Illinois


CHICAGO — Chicago will receive less immigration assistance than city leaders had hoped in a new state budget deal, but that falls far short of the funding requirements for housing for a growing number of asylum seekers in the city of Springfield. is a continuation of the recent practice of

The $50.6 billion state budget approved by the Illinois Senate late Thursday and the House early Saturday includes $42.5 million to serve migrants arriving from the country’s southern border. The provision was revealed early Thursday following a request from Mayor Brandon Johnson. But his administration is demanding more, with a total of $42.5 million going to counties and towns across the state, not just Chicago.

“Hopefully this news is exactly what we want,” Johnson said on Wednesday, after news that lawmakers had reached a budget agreement. But his team has been pushing for more bailouts, and the state legislature will also veto it in the fall, allowing for additional funding.

Finding funding to keep the city’s increasingly strained shelter operations afloat will prove to be one of the earliest challenges for the new administration because of the 10,000 immigrants who have arrived in Chicago since August. was done. Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared a humanitarian emergency a state of emergency in the final days of his term, but city officials said there was only enough money to continue housing and feeding asylum seekers until the end of June. warned.

The city has spent more than $75 million over the past nine months on new immigrants, mostly from Latin America, according to a May letter from a Chicago city council delegation. About $15 million of this aid was self-funded by the city. A proposal to allocate another $51 million to immigration services from existing budget surpluses was temporarily blocked Wednesday by a group of conservative aldermen, but is expected to go to a vote in the next few days.

The push and pull between Chicago and Springfield over how to pay for the influx of immigrants continues, with both Republican governors and nonprofits in southern border states, particularly Texas, pushing asylum seekers north by plane or plane. It is unlikely that they will stop transporting them by bus any time soon. . At a budget hearing earlier this month, city officials said they initially asked the state for $53.5 million but got only $20 million. When they asked for $61.7 million a second time, the state gave them just $10 million. On the federal side, the city’s $66.7 million request to FEMA was met with a $4.3 million award.

The administration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state had spent a total of $260 million on shelter and care for asylum seekers. However, living conditions continue to be tough in Chicago, with more than 700 immigrants now sleeping on the floor of the Chicago Police Department lobby, and thousands more in makeshift shelters, meeting their needs. Conflicts continue to arise among communities and local authorities over how to respond without ignoring Longtime Chicagoan.

In fact, some of the aldermen who oppose further funding from immigrants, whether aldermen or state offers, represent black neighborhoods that have long been deinvested and share the money. They claim they deserve it too. It’s an early test of Johnson’s frequent runbacks in his campaign that Chicago has “enough for everyone.”

In Springfield’s latest budgeting season, Democrats also want Medicaid-style health care benefits for immigrants who enter the country without legal authorization or otherwise ineligible for traditional insurance programs for the poor. They also had to contend with the rising costs of the programs they offered. It does not apply to the majority of new arrivals. That’s because they have to go through a federal application process to get an employment permit, and that application process has been stuck for months.

This means that costs to the county government are also expected to increase.

Since September 2022, the Cook County Health Department has provided care to approximately 6,000 asylum seekers by the end of April, including physical exams and primary care at Northwest Side clinics and those in need. Includes specialist services and inpatient services at Strager Hospital, depending on availability. Overall, hospital officials said 28,600 asylum seekers visited the CCH during this period.

Between September and January, the state covered the labor costs of the nursing staff, but CCH “covered all other operating costs, including doctors, facilities, supplies and medicines,” said CCH spokeswoman Alexandra No. Minton told the Tribune in April. Costs peaked at about $1.7 million per month, but fell to about $1.1 million as asylum seekers arrived less and less.

But the state stopped collecting care costs (about $1.5 million) in early February. With demand starting to pick up again, Cook County Commissioner Toni Prekwinkle traveled to Springfield earlier this month to urge leaders to put the spigot back on.

“Two weeks ago when we were in Springfield, we discussed with legislative leaders, including the Chairman and the President, the resources needed to provide health care to the people who come in from Texas every day. By the end of June 30, it was $8 million and the next year it was $20 million,” Preckwinkle told reporters Thursday. She said she repeated her question in her most recent conversation with the governor.

“We don’t know what will happen,” he said Thursday, hours before the plenary meeting passed the draft deal. She said she has “no idea” how much the county will receive from the $42 million figure.

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