Chicago migrants: Delegation of local leaders heading to Mexico-US border this week without Mayor Brandon Johnson

CHICAGO (WLS) — A delegation of local leaders will head to the southern border this week without Mayor Brandon Johnson, his office said on Monday.

Johnson’s administration is coordinating a small delegation of city, state, faith and philanthropic leaders, led by Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Rights Beatriz Ponce de Leon, to visit the southern border this week beginning Tuesday.

The mayor, along with senior aides and key operations personnel, will stay in Chicago to “address the immediate urgency of adding shelter space to house thousands of new arrivals,” his office said.

“Obviously there is a lot going on here in the city of Chicago. We have thousands of people still trying to find shelter that we are trying to add additional beds and down on the border things are in flux,” said Jason Lee, mayoral senior advisor.

Twenty-fifth Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez will be part of that delegation.

“We still have a failed response from the federal government, state government has not set up one single shelter, the hope is we can connect the dots and raise awareness of what going on at the border,” he said.

“The goal is to bring resources from Texas to Chicago, less pressure on the city, less pressure on our budget and more philanthropic and federal partners to help,” said 6th Ward Alderman William Hall, who is also going on the trip.

The delegation will leave Tuesday and travel to El Paso, San Antonio, McAllen and Brownsville, which, Johnson’s office said, comprise the primary points of departure for migrants traveling from Texas to Chicago by bus and plane.

Ald. Andre Vasquez was invited, but says it’s more important for him to be present for week long budget hearings that began Monday.

“When we are seeing on the budget there is $150 million appropriated for migrant crisis and the burn rate we have it would run out mid-next year, I think it’s fair question to find out what the plan is,” Vasquez said.

Johnson’s office said the purpose of the trip is to review operations at federal processing centers and municipal and NGO-led transit sites, and speak with local stakeholders about ways to alleviate the financial and operations challenges in Chicago and at the border.

The delegation will seek to establish better lines of communication and collect migrant data to expedite work authorization processing, the mayor’s office said. The delegation will also share information about extreme housing and weather conditions that asylum-seekers face.

“This is a humanitarian crisis. I think once people look into the eyes of children and look into the eyes of elders and look into the eyes of mothers and fathers who are just desperate I think their hearts will be open more and that’s what we are here to do,” Ald. Hall said.

Members of the traveling delegation say the trip does include a meeting with Customs and Border Patrol.

The delegation will brief the mayor and other leaders when they return to Chicago, Johnson’s office said. There will be a follow-up trip which Johnson will attend, but Lee would not say when the mayor plans to go to the border. Lee said it will most likely be before the end of the year. Chicago migrants: Delegation of local leaders heading to Mexico-US border this week without Mayor Brandon Johnson

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