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Chicago City Council vote on funding to help migrants delayed amid growing tensions

Chicago City Council vote on funding to help migrants delayed amid growing tensions
Chicago City Council vote on funding to help migrants delayed amid growing tensions 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) – While Mayor Brandon Johnson presided over his first Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday and even got his "unity plan" to reorganize the body approved, it was not all smooth sailing.

The City Council was expected to vote on Wednesday on $51 million of new funding to house the migrants, but the vote was delayed. CBS 2's Andrew Ramos was at City Hall where frustrations boiled over from those opposing the plan.

Inside the City Council chambers, it was momentous for Johnson who opened his first meeting as mayor.

But outside, it was a different story.

Residents, mostly from the South Shore neighborhood, converged on City Hall to lash out at a plan that would set aside the $51 million to address the crisis of housing asylum seekers sent in from Texas who have inundated city shelters.

Critics see the plan as a disinvestment in their own community.

"You're just stepping over us and doing things for other folks," said South Shore resident Tycho Cohran. "Because we never heard of the Black community in Chicago where there's a City Council meeting voting for $51 million for Black people."

As part of the measure, funding would go toward staffing for city respite centers, in addition to other services. The funds come from a surplus that was set aside in 2021 and reserved for "unanticipated emergencies."

Amid the growing tensions, the vote for funding was delayed.

"We have alder-folks in the chamber that just did not agree with the transfer of those funds to provide the supports to our asylum seekers," said Ald. Jessie Fuentes (26th).

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) added, "We are committed to not only address the migrant crisis but also make sure that we address the housing crisis affecting many Chicagoans across the city."

Johnson addressed the heated debate but did not give specifics of a plan. He reminded reporters that he inherited the crisis and he's only been on the job for less than two weeks.

"It's going to take all of us to get this done," Johnson said. "There are obviously individuals that have opinions around how we address the unhoused in the City of Chicago, but I am committed."

The funding for asylum seekers will certainly be at the top of the agenda at the next City Council meeting, which is scheduled for May 31.

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