Just yesterday, Illinois approved $20 million for the city of Chicago following the increase of bussed immigrants from Texas last year. After welcoming over 1,500 in the fall alone, the winter months brought over 1,400 more migrants from the southern state. The doubling of the migration population without funding to match it has stretched Chicago’s funds for migrants thin. As a result, a request made by the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, was sent down to Springfield to better service these migrants and continue the upkeep of school-renovations-turned shelters. A hard deadline set by the government stated the deadline would be Feb. 1 after Lightfoot’s request. Although the $20 million bill appropriates less than half of the $54 million that Lightfoot requested, these additional funds will continue to support the 4,000 migrants that have been forcibly moved from Texas to Illinois.
The transfer from Texas to Illinois is because of Illinois’s status as a sanctuary state. In particular, Illinois is one of eleven states that welcome migrants. Other participating states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington as of March 2021. Being a sanctuary state is more than just a title – it extends legal protections to migrants. For example, protective policies include rejecting detaining requests by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and letting individuals go. Moreover, some guidelines have separate approaches to legal enforcement when engaging with undocumented immigrants.
While this advance from the state to the city of Chicago does not address the entire demand of protecting these refugees, it does lay the foundation. In the coming winter months and with continued immigration to the United States, it is likely that more migrants will be in Chicago. A recurring pattern is occurring in delegating these protections to sanctuary cities. Just a week ago Colorado – one of the eleven sanctuary cities- - announced it would be sending more migrants to the city of New York. A total of three buses from Colorado left for New York city because of the recent Title 42 provision.
The Title 42 provision is a reflection of its times. During COVID-19, it acted as a cautionary measure to limit activity at the border. These precautions enabled the government the right to deny people asylum for public health. This law, called Title 42, aimed to protect and resolve disputes about the law. The Supreme Court attempted to remedy these disputes on Christmas Day of last year. However, some disputes will progress amid the law in the midst of the Title 42 provision and COVID restrictions being lifted across the country, some progress is being made.
Despite Title 42’s persistence, the unwavering commitment to sustaining support to migrants continues with this state-provided grant. While it is unclear how much more support Chicago will receive in the future, looking at the federal government and judicial branch will provide insight into what is next.
Edited by: Maria Cornejo
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