Chicago officials rip Lightfoot’s handling of migrant crisis in tense council meeting: ‘Dropped the ball’
A Chicago City Council meeting became heated Wednesday as those present discussed a $20 million ordinance to help illegal migrants settled in the area.
Multiple aldermen demanded further discussion of Ordinance 11-24 and the ways in which the money would be spent, citing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration’s lack of clarity on the issue, according to Fox 32 Chicago.
Migrant encampments were a source of particular anger, as aldermen complained about a lack of direction for the future — over 287 illegal migrants are currently being held in the former Wadsworth Elementary school building and 120 more are planned to be moved there.
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“The administration dropped the ball with telling folks where these camps will be. And so now that they’re closing, we’re getting more people in the community,” complained 20th Ward Alderwoman Jeannette Taylor. “So the one in Maria Hadden’s community closed, and those migrants were sent to of course Wadsworth which is a closed school.”
“So with all due respect, there should have been a conversation with us. As a matter of fact, this was a conversation I asked for back in October, and I’m confused how we’re here again trying to pass something without having a conversation,” she added.
Lightfoot addressed Taylor’s criticisms in a statement, claiming the alderwoman’s assertions were misguided.
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“Alderwoman Taylor said a number of things today regarding immigrants and direct engagement from the Wadsworth School that are patently and demonstrably false. Engagement with Taylor about Wadsworth started last fall and continued into this year from Mayor Lightfoot personally, senior Mayor’s Office staff and others. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false,” Lightfoot said in a statement to Fox 32.
According to Lightfoot, her administration attempted to keep aldermen informed on social services offered to migrants, but attendance to briefings were slim.
“Since this crisis came to our city, we have sought input from a number of community stakeholders, including City Council, General Assembly and federal elected officials, as well as the faith community, and a range of social service organizations,” Lightfoot claimed.
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“Specifically, we have endeavored to keep all levels of government engaged and informed through more than 17 formal briefings, 9 of which were specifically for Aldermen. Unfortunately, despite advance notice, these briefings were poorly attended by City Council members,” she added.
However, Taylor’s complaints were echoes by several other aldermen — many of whom are calling for a special meeting to discuss breaking the council from mayoral control.
“Who is making these decisions, not talking to anybody, and then they say, ‘oh we’re sorry.’ You’re not sorry, because you’ve been doing it for more than six months. So that’s why I oppose this,” 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston said.
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City council members have complained that their legislative body does not operate as a co-equal branch of the city government.
“We’ve had more than 60 years of mayoral control of the city council. It’s been too long,” Alderman Matt O’Shea said.