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Chicago alderman turns to CBS 2 for information on city's spending on migrants

Alderman turns to CBS 2 for information on city's migrant spending records
Alderman turns to CBS 2 for information on city's migrant spending records 02:32

CHICAGO (CBS) – The City of Chicago has spent more than $100 million on helping migrant arrivals so far.

CBS 2 finally received some receipts last week after repeatedly asking for the spending records.

The six-month fight for the records wasn't just a struggle for CBS 2. City leaders are asking CBS 2 reporters to share the findings. CBS 2's Lauren Victory had the story.

"We actually did not get that kind of line item, which is what we're looking for," said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).

He was referring to the Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, described on the city's website as having "jurisdiction over all matters relating to …refugees living in Chicago."

The city leaders are tasked with keeping tabs on how asylum seekers are cared for, and yet the committee chair is asking a news reporter about city spending.

"If you could share that with us," Vasquez asked.

CBS 2 passed along the information reported last week, including vendor names, invoice numbers, and paid amounts for $83 million out of $110 million spent on migrant care. There was also information on the dozens of companies contracted to provide laundry for $159,000, table and chair rentals for about $70,000, portable toilets and sinks, and more.

Victory: "You've been asking for this information for months and to have to reach out to a reporter to ask."

Vasquez: "Yeah, I mean, I think what it appears to me is that there's been a challenge in, like, capacity with some of the departments, right? That the teams that are implementing the solutions are also the ones that have to report out and also the ones that have to communicate publicly."

Migrants have come to Chicago by bus for almost a year. Vasquez said the city finally sent him some detailed numbers this week.

But how are council members just now getting a spending breakdown?

"The prior administration really didn't communicate it at all," Vasquez said.

He added the transition between former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her successor Brandon Johnson may have slowed things down, but he's ready to ramp up now that more and more migrants are coming to the city.

Between the information he received and CBS 2's records, one of the biggest questions is about the most significant expenditure: more than $55 million spent on staffing alone.

"The staffing was something that was decided by the prior administration," Vasquez said. "We think that those dollars may have been misspent in going, that much of it, going to staffing."

He plans to dig into the data, as does CBS 2.

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