Mayor Johnson to Visit DC with Other Mayors to Request Migrant Crisis Help

Mayor Brandon Johnson is joining four other mayors of major U.S. cities to ask President Joe Biden for federal assistance in handling the waves of migrants arriving in their municipalities. 

In a letter addressed to President Biden, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, New York Mayor Eric Adams and Mayor Johnson express appreciation for his administration’s efforts in helping them address the migrant crises in their cities but argue that more needs to be done.

“To address this crisis without further delay, we are requesting an urgent meeting with you to directly discuss ways we can work with your administration to avoid large numbers of additional asylum seekers being brought to our cities with little to no coordination, support, or resources,” states the letter.

Biden has formally requested $1.4 billion from Congress to assist state and local governments in offering shelter and services for migrants, responding to prior appeals from Democratic mayors and governors.

In their letter, the mayors assert that a greater allocation of funds is necessary and advocate for $5 billion in support.

In that same communication, the coalition of Democratic mayors also called for expedited work authorizations and increased access to work authorizations for asylum seekers. With a shortage of available work authorizations, new arrivals cannot get jobs to help them afford housing. 

“Our strong request is that anyone who has arrived in this country and is approved with an Alien Registration Number, or A-Number, has the ability to work. This will alleviate much of the need for government support,” it reads. 

They also call for the establishment of coordinated entry for these newly arriving persons. 

“We believe that our cities and states can far better handle the flow of new arrivals if there is a coordinated entry and distribution process of newcomers once they arrive. This ability would increase dramatically if each new arrival could access work authorization within 30 days,” states the letter.

At home in Chicago, a Wednesday City Council meeting turned heated over the issue of how to handle the migrant crisis, as many continue to be bussed here from the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The situation has come into sharp relief in the city with the arrival of blustery and cold temperatures as many migrants continue to take shelter on police station floors and in outdoor tents. 

Plans to erect shelters for them have also been met with opposition from groups in neighborhoods throughout the city. 

On Wednesday, a group of aldermen advocated for a referendum in March to determine whether Chicago should maintain its sanctuary city status. However, the mayor’s allies redirected the issue to the rules committee, casting uncertainty on its future.

Nevertheless, a special city council meeting is slated for Thursday morning to determine whether a referendum should be included on next spring’s ballot regarding Chicago’s sanctuary city status. Several council members are pushing for the public to have a say in whether Chicago should maintain that designation.

If Chicago’s sanctuary city status were to be struck down by a vote, that could conceivably restrict the flow of new arrivals into the city. 

Nevertheless, many city leaders, including the mayor, agree about one thing regarding this pressing crisis. 

“From day one, I’ve said that the federal government has to do more,” Johnson said.

The Associated Press and WLS-TV contributed to this report. 

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