Democrats have begun turning against Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson over his handling of the refugee crisis.
The WIndy City is struggling to care for the more than 34,000 asylum seekers that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused here from the border over the past 18 months.
It has spent $156 million on the crisis and still has 14,200 migrants in its 28 shelters and is fighting with the state of Illinois over where to build more.
Zerlina Smith-Members, a victim services advocate and candidate for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, is a Democrat who is exposing Johnson's policies.
“We have people who came here illegally and jumped the border,” said Smith-Members, who is considering leading a recall against Johnson.
Under progressive Mayor Brandon Johnson, the city of Chicago may be fed up with its role in the refugee crisis, and some Democrats are hoping to revoke its “sanctuary city” status
Chicago is struggling to care for the more than 34,000 asylum seekers that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused here from the border over the past 18 months
She blames Johnson, Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and President Joe Biden for the Windy City's failure.
“It's a Biden thing.” It's a Pritzker thing. It's a Brandon Johnson thing. “They wanted sanctuary cities,” Smith-Members told National Review.
“It's not Abbott's fault because he didn't ask for it. 'We asked for it.' Smith-Members plans to lead the charge against Democrats like Johnson and launch a recall effort.
“There is a division in our Democratic Party.” It has become weaker. “It’s going to get worse,” Smith-Members said.
“The voters of the city of Chicago have woken up. Illinois voters have woken up. And they are not on the side of our old leadership.”
She added that if they don't, “the immigration crisis will turn the state of Illinois the color purple.”
Illinois, the state that first elected Barack Obama to the Senate, has elected only one Republican governor and one senator since the turn of the century.
Zerlina Smith-Members, a victim assistance advocate and candidate for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, is a Democrat willing to expose Johnson's policies
She blames Johnson, Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (pictured) and President Joe Biden for the Windy City's failure
The city has spent $156 million on the crisis and is still housing 14,200 migrants in its 28 shelters. It is also in dispute with the state of Illinois over where more housing should be built
No Democrat has been elected mayor of Chicago since William Thompson in 1927.
Emergency shelters in converted warehouses in Chicago were filled to capacity with newcomers living in poor conditions, leading the city to seize other facilities.
Johnson insisted that the city would not open more refugee shelters and called on Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker to keep his promise to build its own shelters.
Southside activist Tio Hardiman says the city needs to focus on its less fortunate residents before dealing with migrants.
“The reality is, if you look at Chicago now, there are high unemployment rates, particularly among African-American youth, there is a lack of mental health services in Chicago, there were already thousands of homeless people in Chicago who were never there, “We always have each other focused on that, just like they are focused on the migrants,” he said.
“If I were mayor right now, I would make a decision to end Sanctuary City.” [status] in Chicago,” he added.
“I would get rid of it because we are not prepared for it.”
Mayor Johnson himself says the huge influx of migrants is unsustainable, but he can't turn them away because Chicago is a “sanctuary city.”
A homeless tent is seen on Montrose Beach in Chicago
Migrants who have no place to stay when they arrive in the city seek safe shelter at the Chicago Police Department's District 12 Station
He blamed both the Biden administration and Texas for his city's difficulty caring for the roughly 15,000 asylum seekers crammed into 28 shelters across the city.
Governor Abbott has sent more than 25,300 migrants on buses to Chicago since August 2022.
Chicago attempted to require them to arrive at certain locations during business hours and confiscated buses that did not follow these rules.
But bus companies responded by dropping off migrants up to 60 miles from Chicago, and Abbott began sending them on charter flights.
Conditions in Chicago's refugee shelters have been under scrutiny since the death of five-year-old boy Jean Carlo Martinez Rivero on December 17th.
Johnson claimed there was “no evidence that the condition of the shelter caused the death of this little boy.”
Volunteers, trying to help the asylum seekers as best they can, argued otherwise, submitting lists of concerns to city officials months before Jean's death.
Photos and videos at the shelter where he died showed 2,300 migrants crowded under a leaky roof in freezing temperatures.
One video showed a little boy with what appeared to be a bandage on his head, lying on a thin folding bed and distracting himself with a tablet.
Another image shows another child coughing and crying while his temperature is taken and volunteers examine him.
A third video showed water leaking from the roof and pooling on one of the beds.