Could it Be? Are Chicago Democrats Finally Waking Up to Their 'Sanctuary City' Debacle?

As we’ve seen repeatedly, Chicago has been having a tough time lately between rising crime rates and a huge influx of migrants. The latter problem has only been exacerbated by the arrival of winter. But through it all, Mayor Brandon Johnson has stiffened his upper lip and insisted that his town is still a welcoming city for those seeking a fresh start. Sure, he’s done some grousing, demanding more federal aid and trying to blame the governor of Texas, but rescinding the Windy City’s status as a sanctuary simply isn’t on the table. But that might be about to change. As National Review reports this week, a growing number of community leaders have reached the breaking point and are calling for a change. Chicago’s sanctuary status continues to make it a magnet for migrants and the locals are noticing all of the millions of dollars in aid flowing to their outstretched hands while the locals do without. 

Zerlina Smith-Members, an independent Democrat, is frustrated by the response of her party’s far-left leaders to the influx of migrants who have flooded the city over the last year and a half. In a desire to be “welcoming,” the state under Governor J. B. Pritzker has directed $640 million towards  sheltering, feeding, and caring for the migrants, while the city of Chicago under mayor Brandon Johnson has paid out at least $138 million, according to media reports.

To Smith-Members, that is money that should be spent to benefit needy Chicagoans. Instead, she said, “we have people who have come her illegally, who have jumped the line.”

Smith-Members, a leader in the Chicago-Cook County Coalition for Humane Migration Management, is among the growing chorus of Chicago residents, neighborhood activists, and business owners — many of them left-wingers and Democrats — who are calling foul over the city’s and the state’s handling of the ongoing migration crisis.

The woman quoted in the excerpt above is sick of the municipal and state governments showering cash on migrants while turning a blind eye to the street-level problems that surround them. She lists poor-performing schools, bad health outcomes, food deserts, homelessness, high taxes, and gang violence among the many plagues that go unaddressed. She describes the situation as “overwhelming,” and it’s hard to blame her.

She reminds us that Governor J. B. Pritzker has poured $640 million into sheltering, feeding, and caring for the migrants. The city has added another $138 million. According to Smith-Members, who is running for Mayor Johnson’s former seat on the Cook County commission, that’s money that could have gone to the many Chicagoans who are doing without on a daily basis. Instead, it goes to people who have “jumped the line.”

She’s hardly alone. Hers is just one voice in a growing chorus that is demanding changes. It’s a very public debate that is currently described as having split Chicago’s traditional liberal-Democrat base down the middle. They are not blind to the potential political consequences. Smith-Members warns that this internal feud could “flip the state of Illinois purple.”

But what about the Democrats’ efforts to blame the Texas Governor and the MAGA Republicans for all of this? That’s not flying very well either. “It’s a Biden thing. It’s a Pritzker thing. It’s a Brandon Johnson thing. They wanted sanctuary cities,” said Smith-Members. “We asked for it.”

There it is. That’s the line that so many community leaders have been unwilling to cross until now. Some of them are coming out and blaming the city’s sanctuary policies for driving all of this madness. And the madness applies to more than just the money being funneled to the migrants. Another member of the same coalition remarked on the fact that so many community centers and parks, many in low-income neighborhoods, have been taken over as migrant shelters. Families that used to rely on those resources to keep their kids off of the streets and away from the gangs are running out of options.

Smith-Members is running for municipal office. Other like-minded, frustrated residents are doing the same. In the end, that’s probably the only way that relief will be possible. If you can’t defeat the current policies through activism from the outside, you have to kick in the doors, take the reins, and make the changes yourself. Best of luck, Chicago. You will clearly need it.

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