Chicago Mayor Urges President Biden to Grant Work Permits to Over Half a Million Illegal Immigrants

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson called on President Biden Thursday to grant work permits for nearly 500,000 illegal aliens residing in the state. Johnson also asserted that the city, home to about 2.7 million residents, could “conservatively” welcome another 400,000 to 700,000 illegal migrants.

“We need the president to extend the same economic opportunities long term for our undocumented brothers and sisters, so they can build a better life here in the city of Chicago or wherever else they decide to live,” Johnson said during a roundtable with urban business leaders on Thursday.

“I want to make this emphatically clear: Chicago will never turn its back on people who wish to call the city of Chicago their home,” Johnson said.

Johnson, marking his one-year milestone as mayor on Thursday, revealed that he had sent a letter to the Biden administration advocating for more work permits. The initiative garnered support from numerous city mayors, such as those from Denver, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco.

“I remain standing in my belief that a more inclusive and equitable future for all residents is truly possible, whether they arrived here yesterday or have been here for an extended period of time,” he said.

The mayor added that even though the “humanitarian crisis” continues to overwhelm and “test the city,” officials will not “waver in their commitment to the immigrant communities.”

As the slow rollout of work permits issued by the federal government, major cities are grappling with the challenges of the illegal migrant crisis and overflowing shelters.

City officials have been pressing the administration to issue more permits for newcomers and prolong the validity of current ones. The current batch of work permits is set to expire on April 24.

In February, over 40 mayors sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou, advocating for automatic extensions of existing work permits, spanning a minimum of 540 days.

On Thursday, the administration declared an extension for certain groups of illegal migrants, stretching from 180 to 540 days, “to help prevent renewal applicants from experiencing a lapse in their employment authorization and documentation.” It’s unclear how many of Chicago’s illegal migrants will be eligible for those extensions.

Last year, Johnson encountered criticism from Chicago residents during various city and community gatherings, expressing frustration over the influx of illegal migrants being placed in their neighborhoods. Since August 2022, over 20,000 migrants have arrived in the city, with thousands still residing in shelters.

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By Hunter Fielding
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