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Democratic Governors to Biden: Migrant Crisis is ‘Untenable,’ Border ‘Too Open’

President Joe Biden greets Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. AP Photo/Susan Walsh
President Joe Biden greets Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

By: Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is telling President Joe Biden the numbers of migrants arriving to Chicago from the southern U.S. border are accelerating. The situation is overwhelming, untenable and uncoordinated, he added.

In a letter Pritzker sent the White House Monday, the governor says “the humanitarian crisis is overwhelming our ability to provide aid to the refugee population.” More than 15,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago in the past 13 months.

With the letter, Pritzker joined a growing list of Democrats calling on the White House to do more.

“Unfortunately, the welcome and aid Illinois has been providing to these asylum seekers has not been matched with support by the federal government,” the letter first reported by Capitol Fax said. “Most critically, the federal government's lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois.”

Illinois taxpayers have covered more than $330 million on services for the migrants, a number Pritzker said is growing each day.

“That’s a massive amount of money for a state still overcoming the health and economic effects of COVID-19,” Pritzker said. “Add to that the over $100 million the city of Chicago contributed.”

Pritzker told Biden the situation is “untenable” and “requires your immediate help beyond the coming work authorizations for some of the asylum seekers.”

The Biden administration should have one person provide oversight of the nation’s efforts at the border, Pritzker said, noting there are too many different federal department contacts who are not coordinated with each other.

“A single office with an identified leader must be assigned to work for the cities and states across the silos of government to manage the challenges we all face,” Pritzker said. “It is time for the federal government to take a much more active role in managing the transport and destination of the transport of asylum seekers.”

Pritzker said it is untenable to allow “just one state to lay the burden upon a certain few states run by Democrats …”

While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has been critical of Biden’s handling of the border by overseeing transportation of migrants crossing the southern U.S. border to Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C. and elsewhere, Democratic Mayor of El Paso Oscar Leeser has also been involved.

In Arizona Monday, Gov. Katie Hobbs also expressed frustration with the flood of illegal border crossers and told The Center Square that the busing policy of some migrants from Arizona to other areas of the country is still in effect.

"Yeah. As we're seeing increases in folks coming in the NGO network at their capacity, we're continuing to provide support and that includes busing," she said.

In New York, a senior advisor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged Biden to “close the border.”

“The federal government needs to do its job,” Adams' advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin told PIX 11. “We need the federal government, the Congress members, the Senate, and the president to do its job: Close the borders.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CBS Sunday that the border "is too open right now."

"People coming from all over the world are finding their way through, simply saying they need asylum, and the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York and that is a real problem for New York City," she said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed border security concerns.

“You have a president that has delivered record funding, record funding to make sure that we have additional … border patrol federal employees at the border,” Jean-Pierre said. "We've made clear that attempting to cross the border unlawfully will result in prompt removal, a five year ban on reentry and potential criminal prosecution."

Among other recommendations Pritzker offered Biden include waiving fees for temporary protected status applications, increase the logistical coordination and data collection, provide financial support to state, local government and non government organizations for housing, food and social services and approve Illinois’ requests for Medicaid waivers, housing vouchers and federal coordination and support.

“Today, Illinois stands mostly unsupported against this enormous strain on our state resources,” Pritzker said. “Mr. President, I urge you … and the rest of your administration to take swift action.”

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