Texas gov to Chicago mayor: Take your complaints on migrant busing to Biden

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, pictured at an Austin news conference in March, suggested Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot take her complaints about his migrant busing policy to President Joe Biden.

AP file

If Chicago can’t handle the surge of migrants from the Mexico border being sent to the city by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, then Mayor Lori Lightfoot should take the issue up with President Joe Biden, the Republican governor said in an open letter Monday. 

That was Abbott’s response to Lightfoot’s written plea over the weekend for his administration to “stop this inhumane and dangerous action” that has turned some Chicago police stations into makeshift shelters ill-equipped to care for the 8,000-and-counting asylum-seekers who have arrived in the city since last summer. 

Abbott told Lightfoot it was “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. 

“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 wrote. “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?”

In her Sunday letter, Lightfoot said she was sympathetic to those border city challenges but countered that “the national immigration problem will not be solved by passing on the responsibility to other cities.”

Abbott agreed in his letter, arguing Lightfoot “must call on the Biden Administration to do its job by securing our border, repelling the illegal immigrants flooding into our communities, classifying the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, and intercepting the deadly fentanyl that is endangering our Country.”

The Texas governor concluded: “Until Biden secures the border to stop the inflow of mass migration, Texas will continue this necessary program.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

At a City Council committee meeting last week, officials said Chicago is facing a $53 million shortfall in its attempt to care for the surge in migrants, as it has received “zero dollars” from the federal government, according to city Budget Director Susie Park.

The situation is expected to deteriorate next week with the expiration of Title 42, a federal border policy that had limited the entry of migrants since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Abbott has been sending border arrivals to Chicago and other Democratic-led cities since August, overflowing city shelters and forcing the city to direct some of the asylum-seekers to sleeping bags on the floors of police stations for weeks at a time. 

In her letter, Lightfoot said she would continue to ask the federal government for more resources and support and to make policy changes as migrants make their way into the city.

“I know by your actions that you either do not see or do not care about the trauma these migrants have already faced,” Lightfoot wrote to Abbott. “But I beseech you anyway: Treat these individuals with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Read Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s initial letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott:

Read Abbott’s response to Lightfoot:

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