Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is facing pushback from members of the city council over his plan to house migrants in tents across the city.
The mayor asked all 50 city council members to find two acres in their wards for a large tent that could house 200 migrants. The tents would be rigged with heat and cooling units, cots, a mess hall, and water hookups.
“I’ve looked in my ward. I just don’t have any available space. I have one of the most dense wards in the city,” said Alderman Brian Hopkins, whose ward includes parts of downtown, ABC7 reported.
Another council member, Alderman David Moore, said several vacant lots on the South Side should be set up for Chicago residents, not new migrants.
“I’m a believer in help your people first, help yourselves first, help your community first. And then, reach out and help others,” Moore said.
However, many migrants have been sheltering at police stations, and Hopkins said a tent could be an improvement.
“We need to get those human beings out of those inhumane conditions right now, and clearly, a tent with some type of secure facility is a slight improvement over what they are currently living in,” Hopkins said.
Migrants are also sleeping at O’Hare Airport.
“I think what should be made clear is because of the scale we are looking at, everyone needs to share in the responsibility,” said Alderman Andre Vasquez, who chairs Chicago’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Committee.
Vasquez suggested that later, the tents could be used for Chicago’s homeless.
“If you can make that case, then you can say this isn’t just for one population. It’s something that helps the whole city out,” Vasquez said.
Chicago has seen an influx of about 13,500 migrants recently. The country’s third-largest city has already spent at least $250 million on the issue.
The situation has angered Chicago residents, particularly those on the South Side, who have complained about the city’s money being spent on migrants rather than on their communities.
In the meantime, Chicago leaders have been begging the federal government for help with the migrant crisis.
“Let me state this clearly: the city of Chicago cannot go on welcoming new arrivals safely and capably without significant support and immigration policy changes,” Johnson said in late August.
The federal government has already given Chicago and Illinois at least $8.5 million for the migrant crisis.
Vice President Kamala Harris was set to visit Chicago on Wednesday for a campaign event, and city council members have called on her to visit the police stations crowded with migrants while she is there.
New York City is struggling to metabolize more than 110,000 migrants who have streamed into the city since last summer.
The city set up tent shelters for migrants last year but ran into issues including flooding in one of those shelters.
Some council members wonder how long the city can sustain so many new migrants coming in.
“Is there a point that we say enough like the New York mayor did?” Alderman David Moore said this week. “Or is that not an option?”