Outgoing Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a letter to Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday asking him to stop sending any more illegal immigrants from the southern border to her city.
“We simply have no more shelters, spaces, or resources to accommodate an increase of individuals at this level, with little coordination or care, that does not pose a risk to them or others,” Lightfoot’s letter reads.
For months, Abbott has been sending busloads of illegal immigrants from the border areas in Texas to other states as a means of raising awareness to the number of migrants arriving at the border daily and President Joe Biden’s response to record high illegal border crossings. Abbott has primarily sent these buses to self-described “sanctuary cities” like Chicago, which have historically refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities that might arrest or deport illegal immigrants.
Lightfoot’s office learned that the Abbott administration would resume sending buses of illegal immigrants to Chicago beginning on Monday, May 1.
Lightfoot has bristled at the strategy, calling Abbott “racist” and begging him to stop after his administration began sending them to her city last summer. At one point, Lightfoot’s administration began placing many of those same illegal immigrants who arrived in her city onto buses to neighboring communities.
In her Sunday letter, Lightfoot once again begged Abbott to stop sending them to Chicago.
“I am, yet again, appealing to your better nature and asking that you stop this inhumane and dangerous action,” her letter reads. “Since we began responding to the arrival of migrants sent by your delegation in August 2022, we have shouldered the responsibility of caring for more than 8,000 men, women, and children with no resources of their own. That number continues to grow.”
Lightfoot claimed many of the people Abbott bused to Chicago have been in need of food, water, and clothing and some have needed extensive medical care.
Lightfoot told Abbott she is sympathetic to border communities, but said the situation his busing practices have put her in is “completely untenable” and “the national immigration problem will not be solved by passing on the responsibility to other cities.”
“For the good of our country and the individuals who are seeking safety in refuge, let’s work together to find a real solution,” Lightfoot wrote. “And that real solution will never be the unilateral bussing of migrants to cities like Chicago.”
Abbott: Call on Biden Admin to ‘Do Its Job’
Abbott rebuffed Lightfoot’s complaints in his own letter on Monday, telling her that Chicago has had to deal with only a fraction of the illegal immigrants who have overwhelmed Texas border towns.
“As the mayor of a self-declared sanctuary city, it is ironic to hear you complain about Chicago’s struggle to deal with a few thousand illegal immigrants, which is a fraction of the record-high numbers we deal with in Texas on a regular basis,” Abbott’s letter states. “Texas border towns like Eagle Pass, Brownsville, and Laredo—and even bigger cities like El Paso—cannot handle the flood of illegal immigrants rushing across our southern border.”
Abbott noted one federal estimate that says around 13,000 migrants will attempt to enter the United States on a daily basis once Title 42 immigration measures end.
“Some reports indicate that there are nearly 35,000 waiting to cross into El Paso as soon as Title 42 expulsions are no longer in effect,” Abbott’s letter states. “If Chicago can’t deal with 8,000 in less than a year, how are small Texas border communities supposed to manage 13,000 in just one day?”
Abbott told Lightfoot that if she really wants to “work together” on a solution, she “must call on the Biden Administration to do its job by securing our border.”
Abbott said Lightfoot should also call on Biden to classify Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, and intercept the fentanyl entering the United States through the border.
Biden’s Border Plan
The Biden administration appears set to end a pandemic-era order, under Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which allowed border officials to heavily restrict entry into the United States to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Without Title 42 in place, some critics of the Biden administration’s immigration policies have warned that groups of migrants could start arriving at the border in even greater numbers than immigration officials have already seen during Biden’s presidency.
The Biden administration has unveiled a new set of immigration policies to address this surge of migrants.
One such Biden administration policy incentivizes migrants to apply for entry into the United States through a parole program. Applicants for the parole program have been advised to apply for entry into the country through an online tool called CBP One. The Biden administration has paired the rollout of its parole program and CBP One with a rule that says those who still ignore the border and illegally cross will be expelled from the country and disqualified from future entry under the parole program.
Another policy would generally require asylum seekers to have applied for asylum in any of the countries they passed through on their way to the United States. U.S. immigration authorities would presume an asylum applicant is ineligible for entry if they did not apply for asylum in other third-party countries, though they could still argue a case for why they should be given asylum status in the United States.
The Biden administration is now trying to notify the public of its immigration policies, as Title 42 is set to end.
In a tweet last week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said, “#CBPOne works for migrants seeking appointments to arrive in the U.S. in specific locations. CBP One is ready to use and makes the process better. Illegal entry will result in removal.”
The administration’s post-Title 42 immigration plans have received criticism from a range of interest groups.
Pro-immigration organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have raised concerns about channeling much of the immigration process through the CBP One app, which they said isn’t always reliable.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC), another pro-immigration organization, has said the Biden administration’s asylum plans create a more “convoluted process” for an applicant to make an asylum claim.
The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), a border patrol union that favors stricter border security measure, said the Biden-era restrictions on border crossings and asylum applications are “all smoke and mirrors.”
“[Migrants] will still have the right to ask for an immigration judge redetermination, which will perpetuate more catch and release-the magnet that draws millions and allows cartel thugs to advertise their services,” the NBPC said in a February tweet. “The cartels will continue to coach illegal border crossers about what they need to say and they will still be released. Don’t be fooled by these fake MSM propagandists.”