Chicago City Council OKs $70 million in additional migrant funding

City Council members on Friday approved $70 million in surplus spending that, with assistance from the county and state, is expected to cover expenses through the end of the year to care for the influx of asylum seekers sent to Chicago from the southern U.S. border.

By a vote of 30-18, council members backed the latest round of funding for a crisis that has highlighted racial divisions in the city, raising questions about committing money to new Latino arrivals without addressing decades of disinvestment in Black South and West side neighborhoods.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said the measure amounts to "burning money" for "residents who are not paying taxes in the city of Chicago."

"If you cut off the funding spigot, they won’t come. But as long as we continue to fund this problem, they’re gonna continue to come to Chicago, " Beale said. "Meanwhile, our families are still suffering."

"Give the South and West Side a billion dollars, and see what happens to crime in the city of Chicago. We could do things necessary to make our communities a better place to live," Beale said.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) accused opponents of "bigotry and ignorance," and argued the city could lobby the federal government to reimburse the cost.

"What we’re saying is our city needs help… This $70 million will do just the minimum to prevent chaos," Sigcho-Lopez said. "Let’s do the minimum to help the people who need it the most."

Mayor Brandon Johnson initially balked at going back to the City Hall well for the funds, backing out of an agreement in February with Cook County Board President and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who have committed $70 million and $175 million apiece from their respective legislative bodies to address the crisis.

Preckwinkle held up her end of the bargain when the county board voted Thursday to approve the funding, while the state budget is still being hashed out in Springfield.