The Windy City Continues to Reel from Sanctuary City Blues
FAIR Take | September 2023
During the first week of September, Chicagoans – and other Americans – learned that illegal aliens being sheltered in Chicago police stations had been arrested for committing crimes against the officers sheltering them. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, one illegal alien was arrested for stealing police equipment from the station and attempted to flee, while another migrant assaulted the pursuing law enforcement officer. Another illegal alien battered a police officer, while yet another threatened a police officer at the station.
How did Chicago get to this point? In August 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott began sending buses of illegal migrants to the sanctuary city of Chicago. Abbott not only wanted to mitigate the disaster unfolding in his state, he wanted to demonstrate to sanctuary mayors and politicians the real-life impact of the Biden Border Crisis. Texas was and remains overwhelmed, especially its Hispanic-majority Rio Grande border communities. The border between Texas and Mexico is over 60 percent of the total length of the US-Mexico border. The state has always been particularly impacted by mass illegal migration, especially the unprecedented current wave. Even before the Biden Border Crisis, Texas already had the second-largest illegal alien population in the entire country (bested only by California).
Over the past year, Texas has sent approximately 13,000 illegal migrants to Chicago, which in turn, is now spending $30 million monthly on the migrants. Chicago politicians may claim that 13,000 migrants is a large number, but in reality, that number represents just 0.5 percent of Texas’ estimated illegal alien population of 2.4 million. Another way to look at the number is that it amounts to a mere 7 percent of July’s Southwest land border apprehensions (183,503), and an even smaller percentage of nationwide monthly apprehensions. It also pales in comparison with the approximately 680,000 illegal aliens already living in Illinois, most of whom reside in Chicago and its suburbs.
Sheltering migrants at Chicago police stations, schools, and other places has been going on for months. In early May, during the final weeks of the Lori Lightfoot mayoral administration, Fox News reported that Chicago was now using police stations to shelter migrants, with at least two police precinct lobbies filled with asylum seekers. The reason given by police sources was that Chicago’s streets were too dangerous for the migrants. One Chicago law enforcement source told Fox that “[y]esterday when I left, there was an eleven-year-old girl sitting on the floor by herself. I try to explain to them not to go outside because my station is in a very bad neighborhood. Literally if any of these young girls walk out there, they will be targeted.” This illustrates a cruel paradox wherein soft-on-crime and sanctuary policies – two sides of the same lawless coin – result in real or potential harm to the very groups that they purport to benefit.
The situation only worsened under Chicago’s new mayor, Brandon Johnson, who took office on May 15, and who remains as committed to sanctuary policies as his predecessor was. Significant public health concerns were also raised about so many migrants being held in close quarters. In May, police sources admitted to Fox News that illegal aliens at police stations were often ill or vomiting, and that the illegal aliens arrived with various diseases, ranging from conjunctivitis (pink eye) to COVID-19. In August, it was reported that some migrants were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, causing concern among local Chicagoans about the spread of illness. This is particularly serious given that migrant children are enrolled in the city’s public schools, and could spread the various diseases within the school system.
It is not just public health that migrants have complicated. They have also impacted public safety. Fights have broken out near migrant shelters and Chicagoans have complained about everything from assaults, harassment, and loud partying, to robberies, drug-dealing, and prostitution. Angry residents are fed up, demanding that the city restore order or they will take justice into their own hands. Sadly, this is not limited to Chicago, with New York City witnessing similar crimes, including public intoxication, sexual relations in hotel stairwells, and drug use. This is clearly not a safe environment for either native-born citizens, or for the migrant population not engaged in these crimes.
Like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Chicago’s new mayor continues to search for various solutions, but Mr. Johnson will not even consider those that involve ending the city’s sanctuary status. Instead, he prefers to shift the problem. Johnson has proposed everything from relocating 1,600 illegal migrants from police stations to winterized camps with tents to shipping them to the suburbs, an attempt by a big city sanctuary jurisdiction to once again make illegal immigration Middle America’s problem. Perhaps Mayor Johnson should listen to the likes of moderate Democratic Chicago alderman, Raymond Lopez, who, at the very least, suggested modifying Chicago’s sanctuary policy by deporting “anyone who engages in gang, drug, prostitution, or anything else more egregious.”
In Soviet Bloc countries, people who experienced the absurdity of the communist system on a daily basis commonly joked that “socialism is a system that heroically combats the problems of its own creation.” Sadly, such a description fits our own open-borders sanctuary policies – be it in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. or anywhere else – like a glove. As FAIR has repeatedly warned, the only real solutions are terminating sanctuary policies, securing our borders, and enforcing our laws by deporting those who have no legal right to be in the U.S., especially those committing crimes.