By Rachel Schilke
Johnson’s office said in a statement via WTTW Chicago that the mayor concluded his time was better spent grappling with the influx of immigrants bused from Texas and Arizona to several Democratic cities, including Chicago, over recent months.
The mayor will focus on “the immediate urgency of adding shelter space to house thousands of new arrivals currently sleeping in police stations, airports or outside,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
“With the weather growing colder and hundreds of migrants arriving each day, it is more important than ever that every stakeholder at the state, federal and local level work diligently to address this challenge, while continuing to meet the needs of Chicago and Illinois residents,” the statement from the mayor’s office read.
This move comes two weeks after Johnson said on Oct. 4 that he would travel to the southern border to “assess the full situation.” The number of immigrants in Chicago now exceeds 15,000 after nearly 30 buses arrived in the city in early October.
Over 3,500 immigrants are now living at police stations and O’Hare International Airport, according to Alderman Julia Ramirez of Chicago’s 12th Ward. Ahead of winter, Johnson’s administration is working to build more permanent shelters, which he said on Oct. 4 go up “every week” through the city’s $30 million contract with GardaWorld Federal Services.
Going to the border in Johnson’s place will be Beatriz Ponce de Leon, deputy mayor of immigrant, migrant, and refugee rights. Ponce de Leon will lead city, state, faith, and philanthropic leaders in a delegation to the border, which is scheduled to leave Tuesday, WTTW reported.
The Chicago delegation will travel to El Paso, San Antonio, McAllen, and Brownsville in Texas, the points of departure for most immigrants traveling by bus or air.
The delegation will gather information “about ways to alleviate the financial and operations challenges in both Chicago and at the border” by “establishing better lines of communication” with officials and nonprofit groups, according to the statement.
“The Chicago delegation will also be sharing pertinent information about extreme housing and weather conditions currently facing asylum seekers in Chicago, and the immense challenges awaiting those without verified sponsors,” the statement read.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Johnson’s office and Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) office for comment.