Chicago Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson Doubles Down on Sanctuary City Policies, Despite Migrant Busing Uproar

The new progressive mayor-elect of Chicago promises to double down on the city’s already liberal “sanctuary city” and immigration policies — as the deep-blue city has been crying foul over plans to send more illegal immigrants. 

The progressive Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson defeated his more moderate opponent, Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO, to win the Chicago mayor’s race. He replaced outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who finished third in the runoff.

The Windy City is a self-described “sanctuary city,” — which means it forbids state and local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Johnson’s campaign proclaimed the city must “extend” the promise. 

“Chicago is a sanctuary city. As such, we must always resist attempts to pit communities against each other and extend this sanctuary promise to everyone who needs it in our city — both long-time residents and newcomers alike,” says its website.

Johnson’s campaign website stressed that the new mayor will “ensure law enforcement does not cooperate with ICE to arrest, detain or deport our migrant neighbors.” 

However, the mayor-elect sees the “sanctuary promise” as going well past merely non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Our public schools must be sanctuaries for all children by investing in dual language programs, ethnic studies, and English as a Second Language (ESL). We must coordinate efforts with local communities with the infrastructure to support displaced immigrants and refugees and coordinate efforts at all levels of government to provide humane conditions for everyone.”

Johnson wants to provide “permanent housing for all unhoused, including asylum seekers”

Johnson says he also wants to provide “permanent housing for all unhoused, including asylum seekers,” and increase funding for a legal protection fund that assists immigrants in avoiding deportation.

The mayor-elect also wishes to appoint “non-citizen representation” to a Chicago Board of Education Non-Citizen Advisory Board and a Chicago Commission for Public Safety while pressing for the state to allow parents to vote in school board elections even if they aren’t citizens. 

For children in Chicago, he wants to “recruit and train enough teachers and clinicians to provide the capacity to support migrant and immigrant children, including bilingual professionals.” Also, Chicago-area children will have “fully funded ethnic studies and bilingual education and dual language programs, where students learn their home country’s histories and cultures, in addition to learning English.”

However, the numerous pro-immigrant policies come as Chicago has been battling other states for sending an influx of migrants into the city from other states.

Lightfoot, the outgoing mayor, was one of several liberal mayors who aimed GOP governors in states including Texas, who sent migrants by bus to other sanctuary cities in response to the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern U.S. border. 

The governors also sent a furious letter to Democrat Colorado Governor Jared Polis when his state sent migrants to New York City and Chicago. 

“These actions do not live up to the values of a proclaimed welcoming state and should stop immediately,” wrote NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Lightfoot. Colorado stopped busing the migrants after a “very productive” conversation with the two mayors.

The continuous wave of migrants to Chicago has led to additional tensions in the city. In January, residents in one city neighborhood protested plans to establish a new migrant center in a former elementary school. 

“There is a lack of resources in our community; we don’t need anyone else to come in and suck those up. We’re tired, Ms. Lightfoot,” said one area resident. 

Local residents had several similar concerns in February when officials moved to house migrants in a former Kmart. After objections from locals, the move was postponed.