Sanctuary Cities

Democrat Buyer’s Remorse: Sanctuary Cities Crack Down on Shelters After Rolling Out Red Carpet for Illegal Aliens

(DCNF)—Democrat mayors who initially advertised their cities as welcoming sanctuaries for illegal migrants have scrambled to scale back key shelter programs as they grapple with mounting costs and community backlash.

New York City, Chicago and Denver — all self-declared “sanctuary” jurisdictions for foreign nationals living illegally in the U.S. — have moved forward with policy shifts for their migrant shelters in recent months, as their local governments grapple with the financial impact of mass illegal migration. Altogether, their taxpayers have shelled out well over $1 billion to house and feed hundreds of thousands of migrants in the past several years, a review of their spending shows.

“Never in my life have I had a problem that I didn’t see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said during a September 2023 town hall, bemoaning how the Big Apple was receiving up to “10,00 migrants a month” at the time.

“This issue will destroy New York City,” he continued. “Every community in this city is going to be impacted. We have a $12 billion deficit that we’re going to have to cut – every service in this city is going to be impacted.”

More than 200,000 migrants have overwhelmed New York City since the spring of 2022, according to city officials. The influx of migrants forced Adams to declare 5% budget cuts in September 2023 for government programs and services in order to pay for their housing and other services, and in August he said the city was reaching a “breaking point” from the sheer volume of migrants.

Altogether, the Big Apple spent $1.45 billion on migrants in fiscal year 2023, according to the city. The financial burden finally forced New York City to tighten the grip on shelter stays.

Migrants living in shelters were ordered to leave after 30 days with no ability to reapply, although some exceptions for medical conditions or “extenuating circumstances” were given, per a decree from Adams in March. Migrants under the age of 23 were given 60 days to remain in the shelter system, and exceptions were made for migrant families.

When Texas initiatively began bussing migrants into New York City in early 2022, the mayor appeared unbothered and welcoming when addressing the media.

“This is a right-to-shelter state, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Adams said in August 2022. “New York is a city that has always represented the democratic values, and the values of our city, of showing our compassion, and that’s what we’re doing here today.”

Adams proved to be the first of several big-city mayors to declare a shift in migrant shelter policy.

“It is an unsustainable mission because we don’t have support from Congress,” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said during a June press conference when defending his office’s decision to begin kicking migrant out of taxpayer-funded shelters. “Congress, of course, refuses to respond to President Biden’s leadership and they refused to enact real substantive immigration reform policy, because that’s really what we need.”

Chicago welcomed over 43,000 migrants since August 2022 and has so far doled out around $150 million to feed and house them, according to the Chicago Tribune. The financial situation became so dire, the city at one point faced a $538 million budget shortfall, with $200 million of it tied directly to the migration crisis.

In response, the city enacted a new 60-day shelter policy for most adult migrants, forcing many of them to leave elsewhere. Roughly 1,000 migrants had been kicked out of the shelter system by mid-June, according to local reporting.

Chicago leaders also appear poised to keep the migrant shelter situation under control as the city prepares for the Democratic National Convention in August, according to local reports.

A couple months earlier, Johnson had urged President Joe Biden to grant work permits to the roughly half million illegal migrants living in Illinois. The mayor also said at the time that Chicago was capable of welcoming another 400,000 to 700,000 illegal immigrants.

The Denver metro area has accepted more than 42,000 migrants from Central and South America since December 2022, according to the Common Sense Institute. The organization estimates that Denver taxpayers and other local organizations have spent as much as $340 million to feed, clothe, shelter and provide other services to them.

Earlier this year, the Denver Mayor Mike Johnston announced sweeping budget cuts in order to allocate enough money for migrant services, with an $8.4 million reduction from the city’s police department and a $2.5 million reduction in funding to the fire department.

In response to tight budget cuts and community backlash, Denver announced the closure of four different migrant shelters, saving the city tens of millions of dollars, according to Axios. The city is now enjoying record-low migrant numbers.

Earlier this year, the mayor issued a how-to guide on how the city could be more welcoming to illegal migrants — individuals the mayor’s office refers to as “newcomers.”

The policy reversals in New York City, Chicago and Denver came despite all three jurisdictions being self-declared “sanctuary” cities, making them welcoming destinations for those living unlawfully in the country. The Center for Immigration Studies — an organization that advocates for tighter immigration levels and tracks sanctuary localities — identifies all three as sanctuary cities for enacting policies that inhibit federal immigration authorities’ ability to apprehend illegal migrants.

“These hypocritical Mayors across the country were all too happy to tout their sanctuary city statuses until Texas bused over 119,000 migrants, collectively, to their self-declared sanctuary cities,” Andrew Mahaleris, press secretary for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“These cities are only dealing with a fraction of what our small border communities deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Mahaleris continued.

Texas, which shares the largest portion of the U.S.-Mexico border by far, has endured an unparalleled impact of the ongoing migration crisis. In response to what he says has been a failure of the Biden administration to address the crisis, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, which involves taking on border enforcement unilaterally, cracking down on illegal immigration within the state and bussing migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities.

Abbott’s office says the bussing to these cities will continue until Biden makes a serious effort to control the southern border.

“The real crisis isn’t in these major cities — it’s on our southern border, where President Biden’s open border policies have allowed record-high levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and weapons to surge into our state and country,” Mahaleris said. “Until President Biden steps up and does his job, Texas will continue busing migrants to sanctuary cities to provide relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border towns.”

Officials for New York City, Chicago and Denver did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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