Pritzker declares state of emergency to expedite housing, medical care and more for Texas migrants bused to Chicago

LOOP – Governor JB Pritzker issued a state of disaster for Illinois on Wednesday so he can free up resources to help deal with the migrant crisis as Texas continues to send busloads of refugees to Chicago .

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has sent hundreds of Texas migrants to Chicago in what he calls a protest against federal immigration policies. But local leaders said Abbott’s administration refuses to tell them when the migrants will arrive or what their needs are, making it difficult to prepare.

The Disaster Emergency Proclamation will allow state and local agencies to more quickly provide transportation, emergency shelter and housing, food, health screenings, medical evaluations and other services to help asylum seekers, the governor said.

The state also activated about 75 Illinois National Guardsmen to help. They are “logistics professionals” who will be able to relieve government workers who have worked around the clock, Pritzker said.

“The State of Illinois is doing everything in its power to support local jurisdictions to ensure the right tools and supports are in place as we move forward with this humanitarian response,” Pritzker said. “Let’s be clear: While other states may treat these vulnerable families like pawns, here in Illinois, we treat them like people.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Migrants disembark from a bus at Union Station after a 25-hour journey from Texas on September 9, 2022.

Pritzker and other prominent local officials have repeatedly criticized Abbott’s decision to bus migrants to Democratic-run cities such as Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., saying he “seeds chaos” and treated the refugees inhumanely.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also said Chicago will need help from county, state and federal leaders to adequately meet the needs of migrants.

About 500 migrants from Central and South America have arrived by bus at Union Station in Chicago since late August, officials said at a press conference on Wednesday. The last bus arrived on Tuesday evening.

Pritzker and Lightfoot said Abbott’s administration has “not responded” to attempts at coordination, and the limited information Chicago officials receive comes from community organizers on the ground.

“The Governor of Texas is imposing an unnecessarily complex, last-minute process on New York, DC, and Chicago and potentially other places,” Pritzker said. “It’s a heartless demonstration of politics over people. … It’s about politics for him without regard to the fear and the angst, and the challenges that poses to these refugees.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle (left), Grace You, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a press conference on September 14, 2022.

Leaders said they sometimes only have a few hours to find suitable accommodation for migrants. Recently, groups of migrants have been temporarily housed in hotels in nearby suburbs, which some of their mayors have criticized, saying city and state leaders do not notify them in advance.

But these measures were necessary because the city is so late informed of the arrival of migrants and it is difficult to find shelter with so many rooms available, the leaders said.

Pritzker and Lightfoot said they had recent talks with the mayors of Burr Ridge and Elk Grove — two suburbs where refugees are staying in hotels — and established lines of communication.

Lightfoot said all levels of government are working together to act quickly and humanely to ensure arriving migrants receive the care they need, but it is becoming increasingly difficult as the administration’s lack of communication of Abbott continues and the city’s resources are strained because of it. “manufactured crisis”.

“This is, again, an orchestrated plan to create chaos in Democrat-controlled cities, make no mistake about it,” Lightfoot said. ” This is unacceptable. It shouldn’t be like this. But that says a lot about who Governor Abbott is.

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