Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls migrant influx “untenable,” intensifying Democratic criticism of Biden policies

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls migrant influ: Washington — This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker referred to the rate of immigrant arrivals in his state as a “untenable situation,” joining a growing number of Democrats who have criticized the Biden administration’s handling of a historic influx of border crossings that is putting a strain on cities all over the country.

Pritzker, a prominent White House supporter, issued President Biden a list of demands in a letter that outlined the difficulties Illinois is suffering as a result of the tens of thousands of migrants who have entered Chicago and other towns over the past year.

Pritzker stated in his letter to Mr. Biden, “We are now seeing busloads [of] more migrants at ever higher rates being transported especially to Chicago each day, on top of the 15,000 that have arrived in Chicago and Illinois over the last 13 months.

Most importantly, Pritzker continued, “the federal government’s lack of coordination and intervention at the border has put Illinois in a precarious position.”

A tense White House call

The letter was delivered on Monday, one day after a contentious phone discussion between Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, a fellow Democrat, and top White House aides Jeff Zients and Tom Perez. According to a person familiar with the conversation, the governor and mayor pleaded with the officials for more federal aid to help with the accommodation of refugees. During the call, which was originally reported by CNN earlier on Tuesday, Pritzker and Johnson both expressed their concerns to the White House about what they believed the administration should be doing more of.

The call with Pritzker and Johnson was described as “productive” by a White House representative, who added that it was a part of “ongoing, recurrent engagements” with jurisdictions that receive migrants.

However, the discussion is unlikely to allay the growing worries in Illinois and other Democratic-led states and cities like New York, which have struggled to shelter tens of thousands of migrants freed from federal border custody, many of whom lack family in the U.S.

As migrant crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be at historically high levels, these local concerns are expected to worsen. According to secret federal data obtained by CBS News, the Border Patrol detained more than 200,000 illegal immigrants in September, the highest number since 2023.

Growing concerns in cities receiving migrants

A group of migrants and members of the public wait in line outside an Illinois Department of Human Services office on Sept. 25, 2023, in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)


It is part of a larger political dilemma for Mr. Biden on immigration and border issues, some of his most controversial policies, that Democratic leaders in Illinois and the White House are publicly airing their concerns.

Since Mr. Biden took office, Republicans in Congress and around the nation have accused him of pursuing border policies that have fostered unauthorized crossings. Over the past year, more Democrats have also started to question the president’s border strategy, especially those in states and cities that receive migrants transported by Texas state officials on buses or in communities near the southern border.

With 120,000 refugees using its rapidly expanding shelter system over the past year, New York in particular has experienced severe operational issues. Mayor of New York Eric Adams has charged Mr. Biden with deserting the city on this matter. While Adams has been more outspoken in her criticism, New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned this past weekend during an interview on “Face the Nation” that the U.S. border was “too open.”

Pritzker wrote to Mr. Biden stating that “more can and must be done at the federal level to address a national humanitarian crisis that is currently being borne by state and local governments without support.”

Pritzker requested that the Biden administration expedite requests for migrant work permits, remove the application fees, provide additional cash to the state, and organize the movement of migrants across the country.

According to White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández, the administration has approved $1 billion in funding for cities and communities that house and support migrants. The administration has also taken action to help migrants obtain work permits more quickly, including reminding those who are eligible to apply.

Fernández Hernández noted that the administration is aiming to boost the number of illegal immigrants who are deported, saying that since early May, officials had executed a quarter of a million deportations or returns.

“House Republicans continue to obstruct both the $4 billion we requested to handle the immediate needs of DHS to control the Southwest Border in a secure and humane manner and to assist communities around the nation. The immigration system needs reform. According to Fernández Hernández, “We will continue to collaborate closely with Illinois as well as states and communities across the nation.


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