Senate Commerce Republicans probe Chicago’s migrant shelters at airports, warn of ‘illegal immigrant magnet’

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FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee are investigating Chicago’s housing of illegal immigrants at two airports in the city — asking whether the city is violating funding requirements, and accusing the city of being an “illegal immigrant magnet” with its sanctuary city policy.

The Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have written to Mayor Brandon Johnson over its moves to house migrants at O’Hare International Airport since March and more recently in Midway International Airport. Images emerged last year of hundreds of migrants camped out in O’Hare in a section of the airport. It came as the city struggled to deal with an influx of tens of thousands of migrants since mid-2022.

“Repurposing airport facilities and infrastructure to house illegal aliens not only degrades taxpayers’ investment in the national airport system but, at least in the case of O’Hare, as federally-funded airport facilities are withdrawn from public access and use, it violates the requirement that these federally funded facilities ‘be available for public use as an airport.’”

“No rational person would define an airport as a facility that houses illegal aliens,” they say.

CHICAGO FACES BACKLASH FROM RESIDENTS OVER RESOURCES FOR MIGRANTS: ‘THEY ARE JUST NOT LISTENING!’

Recently arrived migrants in a makeshift shelter operated by the city of Chicago at OHare International Airport on Aug. 31, 2023. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) ((Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images))

They also note Chicago’s status as a “sanctuary city” and say that its opposition to busing of migrants from Texas by Gov. Greg Abbott shows the city is “working overtime to avoid making good on such platitudes.”

“Just recently, you characterized the sending of illegal aliens to Chicago as ‘sow[ing] seeds of chaos,’ implied Texas Governor Greg Abbott is motivated by racial animus and that his voluntary transportation program for illegal aliens to sanctuary cities is ‘attacking . . . cities that are being led by black leaders or leaders of color,’ and demanded the federal government and the American taxpayer pick up the bill for Chicago’s decision to flout federal law,” they say.

It also highlights a dispute between the city and United Airlines and American Airlines regarding a new terminal at O’Hare, and asks if the city is “trying to squeeze more money out of United and America as you struggle to offset the costs of being a sanctuary city.”

The lawmakers are asking about the number of migrants being housed at the airports, the related costs, the hazards it has created, if it received any federal waivers and if it consulted with the TSA on matter of aviation safety and security.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is seen during votes in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, December 5, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Rather than advocating for border communities alone to shoulder the burden, we encourage you to use the authorities at your disposal to advocate for border and transportation security, the enforcement of immigration laws, and consider reversing the illegal immigrant magnet that is Chicago’s misguided sanctuary city policy,” they say.

In December, Johnson touted his administration’s efforts to provide housing, healthcare and schooling for the migrants coming to the city, but has appealed for additional federal help. He is one of a coalition of mayors who has called for more than $5 billion in assistance from the federal government.

CHICAGO’S O’HARE AIRPORT USED AS A MIGRANT SHELTER AS CRISIS OVEWHELMS CITY: ‘LIKE A SCENE FROM MAD MAX’

“What I have worked to do instead of having chaos is provide some structure and calm around the situation and, without significant federal support, this is not sustainable,” Johnson said. 

“I’ve said repeatedly we need more resources,” he added. 

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“[W]ithout real significant investment from our federal government, it won’t just be the city of Chicago that won’t be able to maintain this mission; it’s the entire country that is now at stake,” Johnson said.

 

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