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Chicago mayor declares state of emergency over migrant surge 

According to the mayor, the city’s resources are at a “breaking point” after the city is sheltering more than 8,000 migrants. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot | Shutterstock

May 10, 2023 9:07am

Updated: May 10, 2023 9:07am

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after thousands of migrants are arriving in the city from the southern border. 

On Tuesday, 48 migrants were “inhumanely” bused to the Windy City by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, according to a press release from Lightfoot’s office. According to the mayor, the city’s resources are at a “breaking point” after the city is sheltering more than 8,000 migrants. 

"We should all understand that this crisis will likely deepen before we see it get better, so as we move forward, the City of Chicago will have to bring additional locations online to prepare for the arrival of more individuals and families and to relieve Chicago Police Department districts," Lightfoot's office said.

"The City of Chicago is in the midst of a national humanitarian crisis, and through a unified effort in accordance with its values as a welcoming city, Chicago is doing everything it can to respond to the urgency of this matter. The City has continued to call on federal and state governments to support the new arrival mission with much-needed additional funding and resources for emergency shelter and resettlement, as there are not enough resources currently to meet the need," she added. 

The state of emergency declaration comes days before the pandemic-era immigration policy Title 42, which allowed border agents to quickly expel migrants, is set to expire. U.S. authorities expect a surge in undocumented immigrants after the policy’s 

Thousands of migrants have been bused from Texas to Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. by Governor Abbott in protest of the Biden administration's immigration policies. 

In April, Lightfoot sent a letter to Abbott urging him to stop sending migrants to Chicago. "Nearly all the migrants have been in dire need of food, water, and clothing and many needed extensive medical care," Lightfoot wrote. However, she has indicated that she does not expect the busloads of migrants to stop anytime soon. 

According to city leaders, around 200 migrants are arriving in the city every day. The city of Chicago has set up several temporary shelters and intake centers with the help of various departments and community-based organizations. Yet most of the city’s shelters have already reached their maximum capacity. 

"The crisis is not only exhausting our city’s resources but it’s flat-out dangerous," said Lightfoot.