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Chicago Democrats turn against Mayor Johnson on migrant issue: ‘We asked for it’

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The migrant crisis could “flip the state of Illinois purple,” local Chicago Democrats warned Mayor Brandon Johnson.

A National Review report on Monday spoke with various activists and Democratic candidates on the growing number of migrants in the city. Cook County Board of Commissioners candidate Zerlina Smith-Members was particularly vocal on public funds being used to house migrants instead of helping the homeless.

“We have people who have come here illegally, who have jumped the line,” Smith-Members said.

She also rejected Johnson’s frequent attempts to blame Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for the migrants, noting that Chicago is a sanctuary city.

Chicao Mayor Brandon Johnson snf Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was creating “chaos” over his state’s bussing of migrants from the southern border to his city.  (Getty Images)

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“It’s a Biden thing. It’s a [Illinois Gov. J.B.] Pritzker thing. It’s a Brandon Johnson thing. They wanted sanctuary cities,” Smith-Members said. “It’s not Abbott’s fault, because he didn’t ask for it. We asked for it.”

She added, “It’s just a lot, and it’s overwhelming.”

Peace activist Dr. Lora Chamberlain similarly pushed back on the idea that Abbott was to blame.

“What state could possibly take in millions of refugees?” she asked.

Others pointed to a growing resentment among that African-American community over the preferential treatment of migrants.

“The reality is, if you look at Chicago now, you have high unemployment rates among African-American youth in particular, you have a lack of mental-health services in Chicago, you had thousands of homeless people in Chicago already that were never, ever focused on like they are focusing on the migrants,” South Side activist Tio Hardiman said.

Chicago migrants

Local activists criticized the focus on migrants over the African-American community. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’m not against them living their lives,” Hardiman added. “It’s creating too much competition between poor people in Chicago that never, ever received this level of support. Never ever.”

Hardiman said Johnson’s policies on the issue have “really discouraged” him.

“If I was the mayor right now, I would make an executive decision to bring an end to sanctuary-city [status] in Chicago,” he added. “I would get rid of it because we’re not prepared to deal with it.”

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The National Review reported that Smith-Members is attempting to launch a recall against Johnson over the migrant crisis.

“There’s a division in our Democratic Party. It has weakened. It is going to get worse,” Smith-Members said. “The city of Chicago voters have woke up. The state of Illinois voters have woke up. And they’re not standing with our old leadership.”

Brandon Johnson, mayor of Chicago, during an inauguration ceremony at the Credit Union 1 Arena in Chicago on May 15, 2023.

Smith-Members is reportedly pushing efforts to recall Mayor Johnson. (Jamie Kelter Davis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

She declared, “The immigration crisis is going to flip the state of Illinois purple.”

The mayor’s office didn’t immediately respond for comment. 

According to numbers reported by local ABC affiliate WLS, more than 35,000 migrants arrived in Chicago in the last year and a half.

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