The state of Illinois and Cook County have announced plans to allocate up to an additional $252 million to house, feed and provide other services to illegal immigrants arriving in Chicago this year – although Chicago's progressive Mayor Brandon Johnson appears to be holding out on committing more funds to the ongoing crisis, at least for now.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has pledged around $182 million while Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has committed up to $70 million more for the joint funding plan to ensure migrants sent to Chicago from the Texas border shelter will have access to wraparound services and healthcare.

It comes on top of the state committing $160 million in November to illegal immigrants to "welcome, shelter, and independence." That commitment was in addition to the $478 million the state has spent since the start of the response, according to a press release.

Makeshift migrant shelters

Recently arrived migrants in a makeshift shelter operated by the city of Chicago at O'Hare 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)


More than 35,000 migrants have been transported to Chicago and its suburbs over the past year and a half. Despite this influx, recent data from the city indicates a decline in the number of migrants staying at shelters, with figures dropping to their lowest point in months, according to Fox 32 Chicago.

As of Tuesday, the number of migrants in shelters has fallen below 13,000, marking a decrease from peaks observed in mid- and early January, when the count reached nearly 15,000.

"With thousands of asylum seekers continuing to come to Chicago in desperate need of support and with Congress continuing to refuse to act—it is clear the state, county, and city will have to do more to keep people safe," Pritzker said in a statement. "I'm thankful to President Preckwinkle for working with us to help close this budget gap and maintain critical services in the year ahead."

The state’s funding proposal will be part of the Governor's upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal to the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Cook County, the most populous county in the state located in the upper northeastern section of Illinois, has already committed more than $100 million in its current FY24 budget for new migrant costs, primarily for healthcare, and Preckwinkle has committed to working with Cook County commissioners to commit up to $70 million more for the joint funding plan.

Mayor Brandon Johnson

Mayor Brandon Johnson condemned the redistribution of illegal immigrants from the southern border to Chicago.


"As critical funding for this ongoing humanitarian crisis stalls in Congress, Cook County stands committed to the well-being of the region," Preckwinkle said. "We cannot wait for additional resources and Cook County is proud to stand alongside Governor Pritzker in this joint funding plan, ensuring that shelter capacity, healthcare and wraparound services remain accessible to those in need."

With a population of around 5.2 million people, Cook County is the second-most-populous county in the United States, after Los Angeles County, based on 2020 census figures. Illinois has a population of nearly 13 million.

The County, through its health and hospital system, has been the primary healthcare provider for new migrants and has served more than 25,000 patients and provided for nearly 70,000 visits across the health system. Visits include comprehensive medical exams and care - including physical exams, testing, lab services, standard vaccinations, complete school physicals and pediatric vaccines, as well as behavioral health screenings and counseling, care coordination and prescription medications. The county also provides follow-up care as needed.

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting at the Hilton Midtown on Sept. 19, 2023 in New York City. (John Nacion/WireImage)


The joint funding announcement comes after state, county and city teams estimated that around $321 million is needed to maintain shelter and services this calendar year, on top of previously committed funding. 

That would leave around $70 million to be allocated by the city of Chicago and Mayor Johnson. When pressed by reporters on Thursday after the announcement, he said there are a "number of matters that need to be worked through," according to NBC Chicago.

Johnson mentioned that Pritzker pledged $65 million late last year to winterize an encampment which the state never came through on. He said that the city of Chicago is solely responsible for providing emergency temporary shelter.

"Remember the state, they've committed to 2,000 beds back in November? Do you remember that?"