As migrants spread to suburbs, state needs to step up


I sent a top Democratic strategist who I respect a copy of the Venezuelan migrant-related poll I posted for my subscribers last week.
Among other things, the M3 Strategies poll of 659 likely Chicago voters, found that pluralities of likely Chicago voters said they opposed “migrants being housed by the city of Chicago” (49-46), while also saying it’s time to end Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city (46-39). The poll’s margin of error was +/-3.82 percent. This is a Republican pollster, but they very accurately predicted the Chicago mayor’s race results during the first round.
Black and Latino voters really helped drive those poll results, with 49 percent of Black voters and 57 percent of Latinos opposing the city’s housing of migrants, and 51 percent of Black voters and 48 percent of Latinos saying they want to end the city’s sanctuary system.
Several Latino residents have told reporters that they resent the help given to the migrants when they received nothing at all after coming to the United States. 56 percent of Latino and Black voters told the pollster that the migrants made the city less safe.
“Not surprised by any of this,” the operative texted back. Indeed, plenty of Democratic legislators have been getting an earful from constituents about the problem, and not just in Chicago.
The question, he said, “is whether this is just another ‘law and order’ issue that polls well and seems persuasive but actually isn’t,” when you match up actual Republicans with Democrats. He said it would probably have more impact on Democratic primaries.
I suggested that Black voter turnout could be driven down by numbers like these. 79 percent of Black respondents told M3 Strategies that the asylum-seeker situation is “negatively affecting current Chicago residents who may be in need,” which seems to check out when looking at the strong push-back against housing migrants in Black neighborhoods. And Black turnout was already way down last year.
“Maybe,” the operative said, but added, “Elections are an eternity away with how voters’ memories operate.”
I agreed about the voter memory aspect, but countered that his prediction assumes the migrant influx would be resolved a year from now. Some analysts have predicted far more migrants next year.
“Oof,” he replied.
“Support for housing migrants and positive views of the impact on the city is strongest among young, white voters on the North and Northwest sides,” the polling firm reported. Everyone else, not so much.
If this keeps up, there’s no doubt that the anger will spread to suburban communities, many of which have no local sanctuary ordinances. And the migrants have already started to arrive there.
During the uproar after Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras applied for a state grant and more than just implied that he had support from the Joliet Mayor and the city’s fire department when he apparently did not, news reports revealed that 2,200 asylum seekers had already been helped by the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Rep. Fred Crespo (D- Hoffman Estates), who chairs an appropriations committee, told me that at least one school district in his northwest Cook County district is “looking at bringing back mobile classrooms,” to help deal with the growing influx, and more are complaining that they can’t sustain the pace.
The poll makes it fairly easy to see why the governor and his administration would like to continue defining this as a Chicago administrative problem.
When asked last week about how all these folks could possibly be housed, Gov. Pritzker said, “This is a challenge I think the city has been facing since the beginning,” the governor said. “You know, we don’t do city planning at the state level. This is, you know, a question best directed at the city.”
Pritzker added that the state has been supporting the city “as they have developed plans and as they’ve implemented them.”
What the city has actually done is floated a lot of ideas, but not implemented them and flailed all along the way. And after receiving more than $300 million in state assistance, the city is coming back for more cash, issuing demands in the news media and meeting with legislators.
Unlike Mayor Brandon Johnson, the Pritzker administration has lots of experience dealing with crises. They’re not perfect, but they did manage to help get the state through the pandemic. And Pritzker’s sharp letter to President Biden last month seems to have helped push the president forward. The White House announced it will resume deportation flights to Venezuela.
Despite the governor’s words, this is no longer a Chicago-only issue. And that means the state needs to start taking more of a lead here.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax. com.