Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an unusually blunt letter Friday to his Texas counterpart, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, asking him to halt the transport of asylum seekers to Illinois, as the state — and much of the US — is encased in an Arctic blast resulting in subzero temperatures. “I plead with you for mercy for the thousands of people who are powerless to speak for themselves,” Pritzker wrote.
The humanitarian plea comes as Chicago was hit by a significant winter storm on Friday, with some parts of the city experiencing up to eight inches of snow. Plummeting temperatures have already descended upon Chicago, with the National Weather Service forecasting wind chill numbers as low as negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit. On Friday, the city was using idling buses to warm newly arrived migrants.
“Please, while winter is threatening vulnerable people’s lives, suspend your transports and do not send more people to our state,” Pritzker wrote in his “appeal to [Abbott’s] humanity,” adding that many asylum seekers have been arriving “without coats, without shoes to protect them from the snow. The Illinois Governor also accused Abbott of “dropping off asylum seekers without alerting us to their arrivals, at improper locations at all hours of the night.”
Since April of 2022, Abbott, one of the most staunchly anti-immigrant governors in the GOP, has been sending buses of immigrants to Democratic cities and states. As of December, Texas had sent over 30,000 people to Chicago.
The Democratic Illinois governor acknowledged the need for “bipartisan solutions to the border crisis” in his letter Friday, but wrote that Abbott had instead “chosen to sow chaos in an attempt to score political points.”
“Your callousness, sending buses and planes full of migrants in this weather, is now life-threatening to every one of the arrivals,” Pritzker added. “Hundreds of children’s and families’ health and survival are at risk due to your actions.
Abbott’s office responded to Pritzker Friday, saying it would not halt the transfers unless President Joe Biden secures the southern border. The office added that Texas expects to experience frigid weather during this weekend’s “arctic blast.”
“Instead of complaining about migrants sent from Texas, where we are also preparing to experience severe winter weather across the state, Governor Pritzker should call on his party leader to finally do his job and secure the border — something he continues refusing to do,” Abbott spokesman Andrew Mahaleris wrote in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Until President Biden steps up and does his job to secure the border, Texas will continue transporting migrants to sanctuary cities to help our local partners respond to this Biden-made crisis.”
Pritzker isn’t the only Democratic politician who has gone after Abbott recently. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Eric Adams sued 17 Texas charter bus companies, seeking to recoup over $700 million in costs associated with “providing emergency shelter and services” to migrants brought up from Texas.
Announcing the suit, Adams argued that “Governor Abbott’s continued use of migrants as political pawns is not only chaotic and inhumane, but makes clear he puts politics over people.”