A group of Democratic mayors from some of the largest cities in the U.S. are meeting in the nation's capital Thursday to plead with the Biden administration for more help in managing the surge of migrants arriving in their cities.
Senior White House officials were scheduled to meet with the mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles to discuss how to address the ongoing crisis. New York City Mayor Eric Adams was also scheduled to attend, but a spokesperson said he had to return home to "deal with a matter."
"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting local jurisdictions hosting recently arrived migrants," a White House spokesperson told Scripps News. "And we will continue working to deliver support in every way we can."
The Biden administration has already delivered more than $1 billion in federal aid to help local communities handle the influx, and while the mayors say they appreciate the efforts, they also say much more needs to be done. In a letter obtained by the Associated Press, the group of mayors said they plan to request an additional $5 billion in aid to provide migrants with shelter and services — far greater than the $1.4 billion President Biden has requested from Congress.
"While we are greatly appreciative of the additional federal funding proposed, our city budgets and local taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of this ongoing federal crisis," the letter states. "Cities have historically absorbed and integrated new migrants with success."
Places like Chicago are scrambling to provide shelter and basic necessities for the nearly 20,000 migrants who have arrived to the city since August of last year. It's gotten to the point where longtime residents are now speaking out, and have even filed a lawsuit over the influx of migrants into their neighborhoods.
"We have crime that's out of control. We have a high unemployment rate. We have all these different things that I believe should be addressed but isn't. And now you're going to pile in a different group of people into our community. It's unjust," said Natasha Dunn, a longtime resident of Chicago's South Side.
In New York City, more than 122,000 migrants have arrived over the past year, and hundreds more are flooding in each day, prompting Mayor Adams to ask a judge for permission to temporarily suspend the city's right to shelter law.
A top adviser to Adams recently called on the Biden administration to take drastic measures to address the situation and "close the border." A spokesperson for Adams later attempted to clarify his position, noting that the U.S. should continue to welcome migrants, but there needs to be a viable "decompression strategy" in place.
"Our cities need additional resources that far exceed the amount proposed in order to properly care for the asylum seekers entering our communities," the letter from the group of mayors states. "Relying on municipal budgets is not sustainable and has forced us to cut essential city services."
Meanwhile, a caravan of some 5,000 additional migrants is currently making its way north through Mexico toward the U.S. border. A group of Republican senators recently embarked on a border tour and bashed the Biden administration, saying its lax stance on immigration is the root cause of this growing crisis.
"We have a humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border," said Sen. Pete Ricketts. "And it's created by Joe Biden's failed and inept policies."
The Biden administration has largely pinned the blame on Congress for failing to pass immigration reform.
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