NYC, Chicago Clash Migrant Surge Crushes Cities’ Finances

New York City and Chicago grapple with financial strain as migrant surge puts pressure on city resources.

An expected surge in migration at the border with Mexico is setting off alarm bells in states and cities across the US — and stoking tension between Joe Biden and fellow Democrats just as the president’s reelection bid gets under way.

In El Paso, Texas, they’ve declared a state of emergency as hundreds of men and women are sleeping on sidewalks, but the crisis has spread to America’s largest cities. In New York, Mayor Eric Adams has lamented the pressure on his city’s already-strained budget — with people camped out in cheap hotels and bus terminals — and Chicago leaders have been forced to house migrants in public buildings and even police stations.

The situation is poised to worsen with the US government losing its power to quickly expel migrants using a pandemic-era measure known as Title 42 that’s expiring on Thursday. It’s also placed Biden in a standoff with Republican and Democratic leaders at the state and local level who say they need more federal help to handle the influx.

Pedro Tonito, 43, and his family have been in the US for two weeks after a months-long journey from Venezuela that involved a dangerous crossing of the Rio Grande, he told Bloomberg News. They’re now among dozens of young migrant families staying at a La Quinta Inn in Queens as they wait for documents to be able to live in the US.

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“It wasn’t easy to make this decision, to leave our home and entire family back in Venezuela,” Tonito said in Spanish. “But we didn’t have a choice. We lost our jobs. We would go days without eating. My children were starving.”

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The New York mayor has urged the administration to better coordinate response efforts and speed up federal financial assistance and work permissions for migrants. He’s said the city is receiving around 500 migrants per day from border states, and his office expects those numbers could double with the end of Title 42.

Adams was not included on a list of Biden campaign surrogates released Wednesday, even though the Washington Post reported in March he would be included. The omission was reported earlier by Politico.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she took emergency measures to respond to a “surge of new arrivals since last month,” including 48 people she said were bused this week by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. She called for more aid from federal and state governments.

The tensions with Democrats come at a difficult time for the president, whose political team has looked to fellow party members to boost his reelection campaign. Biden’s also stuck in a high-stakes showdown with Republicans over raising the US debt limit and is set next week to embark on a trip to Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia.

“The Biden administration had two years to prepare for this and did not do so. And our state is going to bear the brunt,” Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat-turned-independent who represents a battleground Biden won in 2020, said last weekend on CBS News.

According to police sources in the city, due to Chicago’s sanctuary city policy, police precincts have turned into unofficial migrant shelters.

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