Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls for united front in migrant response after criticizing Biden administration effort

After sending President Joe Biden an open letter in which he criticized the White House’s efforts to deal with migrants, Governor. J.B. Pritzker called on local Democrats to show more unity in response to the influx of asylum seekers arriving from the southern border in Chicago.

Pritzker made his comments just days after he voiced concern about Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan to accommodate asylum seekers in tent encampments throughout the city. This sparked a barrage criticism from the City Council’s allies of the new mayor regarding the state’s response.

On Tuesday, the governor again accused Texas Republican Governor. Greg Abbott is accused of trying to “cause confusion in the places where he sends asylum seekers.”

Pritzker stated that the more people who support this at the local level the more likely he is to increase the number buses. You can see that happening now. Pritzker neglected to mention that many of the buses that have recently arrived in Chicago were sent by El Paso’s Democratic mayor.


Pritzker’s call for a Democratic Detente comes as both the city and state prepare for an accelerated pace of arrivals for migrants from Venezuela and Latin American countries. Sources have reported that the number of buses expected to arrive in the city this week will be 20-25 per day. This would bring 1,000-1,250 people each day and raise the total number to over 20,000 since August 2022.

Pritzker tried to ease any tensions that may have remained with City Hall following the flare-up last week, in which members of his team responded on social media to criticisms from Johnson’s floorleader, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th.

Pritzker, speaking to reporters at a separate event at the University of Chicago, said: “We’re both about getting things done.

The coordinated release of the letter on Monday, and news about a phone call on Sunday between the White House and the Mayor’s Office, served to shift the focus of the migrant crises to the federal response. Both Pritzker, and the city of Chicago under Johnson, and Lori Lightfoot’s predecessor, have been clear that they are disappointed with it.

The Governor said that the letter was not a first request for help by his political ally at the White House, but rather an attempt to repeat the numerous pleas for aid the state made in the last year.

Pritzker stated that they wanted to ensure that there was an official statement that outlined many of the issues that had been discussed in the past, as well as the current needs.

The White House was asked in the three-page letter to nominate a single individual to head the federal relief effort for migrants.

The governor is also serving as an advisor to Biden’s reelection bid. He asked the federal government to take a more proactive role in coordinating transportation of asylum seekers from Texas to other areas of the United States, accusing that administration of “abdicating its responsibility once (U.S. Customs and Border Protection releases migrants to the interior of this country.”

Pritzker has also asked for additional financial assistance beyond the “modest funding”, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided to the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.

According to Pritzker, the state has spent $330 million to welcome the new arrivals. However, not all the money has been sent to Chicago where the majority of migrants are staying.

Chicago has committed $144 million to the migrant response and is expecting costs to reach $363 million at the end of the year.

Pritzker said that given the political dynamics of a divided Congress and the threat of another shutdown next month, a comprehensive overhaul or more funding to the response for migrants is unlikely.

But the governor said there some of what’s outlined in the letter are steps the Biden administration can take without having to go through the Republican-controlled House.

A White House spokesperson responded to the letter late Monday by pointing to increased border enforcement efforts under the Biden administration and accusing Republicans in Congress of blocking the president’s attempts to do more for both new arrivals as well as cities and states who are accepting them.

The spokesperson stated that “House Republicans are continuing to block reforms to the immigration system and the $4 billion requested by us to meet the immediate needs of the (Department of Homeland Security), to manage the Southwest border in a humane and safe manner and to support communities throughout the United States.” “We will continue working closely with Illinois, states and cities throughout the country.”

The White House called Sunday’s telephone call between Pritzker, Johnson and Biden, including Biden chief of staff Jeff Zients and senior adviser Tom Perez, a “productive conversation”.

The spokesperson stated that the meeting was part and parcel of the ongoing and recurrent engagements among White House officials, leaders in Illinois, and Chicago, regarding federal support to communities welcoming migrants. She also highlighted the grant funding in excess of $46 million the state and city have received. This is out of a total of $1 billion in grant funding nationwide.

Pritzker says he has spoken to White House officials since Monday’s letter “to ensure that they have heard us and want to respond.”

He said, “They have said that they want to respond to these things. They’re working their way down the list of things to see what they can do right away and what they may be able do in the short term.”

The governor’s office and City Hall still have not outlined any plan for the large number migrants that could arrive over the next few weeks, if the pace of arrivals continues.

Pritzker stated that “we’re going do whatever we need to do in order to take care” of those who were present.