What would a President Pritzker do on immigration, border crisis?

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With ongoing speculation about whether President Biden will remain the Democratic 2024 presidential nominee after a disastrous debate performance last week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is one of the names being raised as a replacement.

But the ongoing crisis at the southern border remains a top issue for voters across the country, and there are signs of the extent to which Pritzker might take a different approach to the crisis than the current administration.

Illinois has been one of the states hit by the knock-on effects of the immigration crisis, where migrants have moved through the southern border into cities like Chicago by the tens of thousands. 


Illinois Governor JB Pritzker

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting at the Hilton Midtown on September 19, 2023, in New York City. (John Nacion/WireImage)

While Pritzker has been broadly supportive of most of President Biden’s efforts at the southern border, he has also been one of a number of Democrats who have been critical of the federal government’s handling of the crisis.

In October, Pritzker sent a letter to Biden stressing that he believes in the right “of every human, especially those facing persecution, to find refuge and live with dignity in this great country of ours.” However, he warned that the crisis is “overwhelming” the states and criticized the federal government.

“Unfortunately, the welcome and aid Illinois has been providing to these asylum seekers has not been matched with support by the federal government. Most critically, the federal government’s lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois,” he said.

“There is much more that can and must be done on a federal level to address a national humanitarian crisis that is currently being shouldered by state and local governments without support,” he said.

Specifically, he requested a number of actions, such as the waiving of fees for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and “significant” increases in logistical coordination, including the federal government taking over coordination of routing buses of migrants across the country.


migrants processed at the border

Migrants are processed by the U.S. Border Patrol near the Jacumba Hot Springs after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on June 13, 2024, near San Diego, California.  (Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

Pritzker also called for a “federal coordinator and task force” to be based at the border and solely to be dedicated to migrant resettlement. In addition, he called (as Biden’s administration has done) for more funding to states, local governments and non-governmental organizations and the expediting of work permits.

He also called on Biden to approve requests from Illinois to allow waivers for Medicaid and housing vouchers for migrants.

In January, he, along with a number of other governors, wrote to Biden calling again for more federal action while backing the administration’s supplemental funding request to Congress. It also backed claims by the administration that the immigration system is broken and in need of reform.

“Without serious reform informed by evidence-based solutions, the challenges facing states and localities will only grow,” the letter said.

Pritzker was also supportive of the Biden administration’s move last year to redesignate Venezuela for TPS, meaning that hundreds of thousands more were protected from deportation and given work permits.


“Reducing wait times for employment approvals and expanding protection status for those coming from Venezuela will get people working and on a path to building a better future for themselves and their families,” he said.

Meanwhile, at home, Pritzker has kept that focus on funding by approving significant amounts of funding to help the state deal with the number of migrants it is seeing.

As he was pushing Biden for more funding last year, he also announced that the state was investing $160 million to address the crisis, including money for shelter and wraparound services.

This year, Pritzker announced another $160 million for assistance, while taking another shot at inaction from Congress.


“With thousands of asylum seekers continuing to come to Chicago in desperate need of support and with Congress continuing to refuse to act—it is clear the state, county and city will have to do more to keep people safe,” he said.

Get the latest updates on the ongoing border crisis from the Fox News Digital immigration hub.

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