The BorderLine is a weekly Daily Signal feature examining everything from the unprecedented illegal immigration crisis at the border to its impact on cities and states throughout America. We also will shed light on other critical border-related issues such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism, and more.


Chicago, like New York City, is struggling amid mass arrivals by illegal aliens.

Chi-town reports receiving over 22,000 illegal aliens transported from the southern border. As of last month, over 3,000 aliens were awaiting a spot in “free” city shelters.

Mayor Brandon Johnson, a Democrat, pledged last spring during his campaign: “Sanctuary means that everyone is welcome here.” And, Johnson said, Chicagoans “must work to expand our status as a sanctuary city.”

Since then, the new mayor has found his promises easier to make than to keep as the Biden administration continues to release thousands of illegal aliens at the U.S.-Mexico border every day, allowing and even paying for their travel to Chicago and other northern cities.

In addition to most illegal aliens, which are sent by the federal government, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has bused some to Chicago to share his state’s unfair burden. With city shelters already coping with Chicago’s nearly 70,000 existing homeless residents, Johnson has spent millions to repurpose city buildings, including a school, to house illegal immigrants.

Johnson also has asked Cook County, the state of Illinois, and the federal government for more money. He seems at wit’s end.

In a press conference Dec. 18, Johnson angrily called the Biden-made chaos at our southern border “this international crisis that the entire world is dealing with.”

The mayor has a bachelor’s degree in “youth development” and a master’s degree in education. He worked as a teacher and union organizer before entering politics. It’s not apparent from his career that he ever was an expert on migration or foreign affairs, but at one point during the presser, Johnson seemed to blame U.S. foreign policy for the illegal immigration crisis in Chicago.

Johnson spoke of “a global population shift based on policies that have been promulgated for the last 20 years that have caused … not just the sanctions but have caused displacement for the entire globe.”

What can he have meant by “sanctions”? Johnson’s outburst echoes the statement issued by mostly left-wing Latin American leaders who gathered recently in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.

The meeting included the communist presidents of Cuba and Venezuela and the socialist, ex-terrorist president of Colombia. They put out a Palenque Declaration blaming mass migration (from Cuba and Venezuela in particular) on U.S. economic sanctions, rather than the leaders’ own ruinous socialist economic policies and dictatorships.

Johnson’s righteous tirade went on.

“Until we get a real handle on what is happening internationally,” he said, U.S. cities such as Chicago, Denver, and New York to which “this raggedy governor [of Texas] is shipping people” are “going to have to come up with innovative approaches to deal with this migrant crisis.”

Maybe by “innovative” Johnson means his proposed “winterized base camp” to put 2,000 migrants in tents on a city lot at a cost of over $30 million. Chicago residents ardently oppose the plan.

Johnson then blamed Abbott for Chicago’s ills, saying that the beleaguered Texas governor is “literally invoking chaos” rather than merely showing the rest of the country what Texas is dealing with.

“From the very beginning,” the mayor said, “the buses coming from Texas have not centered people’s humanity and it’s actually been quite raggedy.”

Johnson described as “wicked” Abbott’s sending to Chicago just a tiny portion of the illegal immigrants being released into Texas every day by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In fact, as Johnson surely knows, most of these illegal aliens buy their own plane and bus tickets to Chicago or are given them by nongovernmental organizations using federal grants—in other words, your taxes.

Like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also a Democrat, Johnson is learning that it’s easier to declare a sanctuary city than it is to be one. Johnson doesn’t want to go further and concede that not all of his city’s new residents are really seeking, much less are qualified for, asylum.

That would go against his party’s political ideology that open borders and sanctuary cities are the only moral policies. That wasn’t always the case though: By now, Chicago’s legendary Democrat mayor, Bill Daley, almost certainly would have pressured the White House to do something at the source—at the border—to take the pressure off his city.

Johnson went on blaming Texas, complaining bitterly that the illegal aliens coming over the border, then north to Chicago, are “showing up sick.”

“Do you hear me?” Johnson asked.

He’s learned that in addition to free housing, education, and food, illegal aliens require health care too—at public expense.

“We have homelessness, we have mental health clinics that have been shut down and closed, you have people who are seeking employment,” Johnson said, adding that “the governor of Texas needs to take a look in the mirror [at] the chaos he is causing for this country.”

“This is not just a Chicago dynamic,” the mayor said of Abbott, arguing that the Texas governor “is attacking our country.”

But Johnson’s emotional words are projection. He has to know that, rather than Abbott, President Joe Biden is behind the “chaos” and is the one “attacking the country.”

Johnson’s preferred solution seems to be that Abbott and other border-state governors keep every single migrant that Biden lets in at the rate of thousands a day—and not inconvenience Chicago with the resulting burdens on already-strained social services.

Johnson also asked: “How about we reevaluate all of our international policies that are causing the chaos that we’re experiencing right now?”

Now that’s a great idea. Let’s start by returning to the “Remain in Mexico” program and “Safe Third Country” agreements with Central American countries, which kept alleged asylum-seekers outside the U.S. during the Trump administration while they pursued due process.

These agreements sent a signal to aspiring illegal aliens with no valid asylum claim that they wouldn’t get to stay in the U.S. while they waited to be processed. Word got out, and these illegal immigrants mostly stopped coming.

Next, let’s convince Colombia to stop facilitating illegal migration north, incentivize Panama to close the Darien Gap, and help Guatemala seal its border with El Salvador and Honduras. Let’s stop pretending Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has any intention of allowing free elections in his country, restore even tighter sanctions on Venezuela, and punish Maduro for deliberately weaponizing mass illegal migration to distract his people from his regime’s incompetence and corruption.

Closer to home, we surely can use our massive economic leverage to get Mexico to seal its southern border with Guatemala, retake control of its borderlands from the drug and smuggling cartels, and block incoming flights full of would-be illegal immigrants to the U.S.

But that’s not what Chicago’s mayor meant, and it’s certainly nothing the Biden administration has any intention of doing.

Johnson, Adams, and other mayors of sanctuary cities with blown budgets and angry citizens can give all the contentious press conferences they want, but that will hardly solve their problems.

Illegal aliens will keep coming to take advantage of them until Congress forces Biden to stop the flow.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.