Several Democratic-led cities that have received migrants from the Southern border are concerned that they cannot house enough of them in the winter.
Large cities in New York, Illinois and Massachusetts have received thousands of migrants from the Southern border since 2021, when migrant crossings began to surge and Republican-led states sought to transport them to Democratic-led cities. The influx has overwhelmed the infrastructure in these cities, with officials now warning that they cannot provide housing to migrants amid cold winter temperatures and demanding federal funding to help, according to Politico. (RELATED: ‘Turn It Into A Travel Agency’: GOP Senator Spars With Biden Official On Funding Police Abroad While Defunding ICE)
“As the temperature starts to drop, it is crucial — now more than ever — that the federal government finish the job they started,” said Kayla Mamelak Altus, a spokesperson for Democratic Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, in a statement to Politico. “We need meaningful financial help and a national decompression strategy. New York City cannot continue to manage a national crisis almost entirely on its own.”
Happening Now: Hundreds out protesting a new migrant housing shelter in New York at the former St. John Villa Academy on Staten Island pic.twitter.com/rmTBFtOoGQ
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) August 28, 2023
City officials in New York have erected massive tent-based camps to house migrants, though these are unlikely to protect them against cold weather in months such as January, when the mean temperature is 33.7°F, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“I think for us it really is everything coming to bear at a time when the weather is really cold,” said Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, to Politico.
New York officials have taken to offering migrants incentives to leave the city, such as one-way plane tickets to foreign countries with warmer climates, though migrants have reportedly rejected these offers because they desire to remain in the United States.
In Chicago, where Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration has been criticized by residents for the influx of migrants, racial animus between black citizens and migrants from other countries is complicating efforts to help the latter prepare for the city’s winter, where the mean temperature is 25.6°F, according to the NOAA.
“Residents are seeing that after all this time of promising something for us, nothing has come of it. Now you have folks who have just come to this country, and they’re being serviced,” said Alderperson Ronnie Mosley, who represents the heavily black South Side of Chicago, to Politico.
Senior Democratic officials have vowed to support migrants, however, regardless of local opposition. “The state that took my ancestors in fleeing from pogroms in Ukraine will not allow asylum seekers to freeze to death on our doorsteps,” said Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Politico reported.
In Massachusetts, many homeless persons may access state-funded housing under a right-to-shelter law. However, after facilities were filled to capacity on Nov. 9, new applicants have been placed on waitlists, prompting concern among activists about the winter.
”I think that we’re going to see some very desperate situations,” said Andrea Park of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, to Politico.
Adams, Johnson and Democratic Gov. Maura Healey of Massachusetts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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