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Four Reasons Why Chicago Should Dump Its ‘Sanctuary City’ Status


Authored by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner via Wirepoints.org,

Many Chicagoans are outraged that city and state officials are prioritizing a growing number of illegal immigrants over residents and their communities.

Not only do these Chicagoans feel their safety is being compromised, they see attention and services being directed to non-citizens – “exactly the kind of services South Side residents say they have begged for and been denied.” City and state officials will spend over $1.1 billion for Medicaid benefits and at least another $280 million on shelter and housing for illegals.

Struggling Chicagoans are right to protest the city’s “sanctuary” designation. Chicago is already failing dramatically to take care of its own citizens.

Nearly one in every five Chicago residents lives in poverty. Crime continues to jump even as the pandemic and George Floyd’s murder become more distant. The city’s public schools fail to educate children. Jobs are hard to come by for too many minorities. And the city can’t even afford the social programs it already has in place.

By encouraging an influx of people the city can’t handle, Chicago’s politicians are making the overall situation for everyone worse off.

Here are four major reasons why they should focus on the city’s own crises first before taking on the problems of other countries:

1. Chicago can’t take care of its own poor.

Nearly 450,000 of Chicago’s residents, or just over 17%, live below the poverty line – $27,479 for a family of four in 2021. Chicago has the 8th-worst poverty rate among the nation’s most populous cities and its status as a sanctuary city may guarantee that the already-bad ranking gets worse.

At its core, Chicago’s poverty crisis is the result of broken families – absent fathers and births to single moms. Over half of all Hispanic births and more than 80% of black births in Chicago are to single mothers. As Wirepoints has already covered comprehensively, that dynamic contributes to lower-income and crime-prone communities. 

2. Chicago can’t protect its own citizens from crime.

Chicagoans suffered nearly 700 murders in 2022, the most of any city nationwide. Overall, Chicago has held the embarrassing title of the nation’s murder capital for 11 years running.

It’s not just homicides. Reported major criminal incidents jumped by a total of 20,000 in 2022, a dramatic 41% increase over 2021.

And year-to-date 2023, crime is up another 43% with no signs of slowing down. Theft is up 20%, robbery 17%, and motor vehicle thefts, a whopping 130%.

Chicago’s police forces are also overstretched to the point they often can’t react to emergencies. In 2021, more than half – or more than 400,000 – of all “high-priority” emergency calls (for shootings, stabbings, domestic violence, etc.) had no police available to respond to them.

3. Chicago can’t educate its children.

Just 20 of every 100 Chicago Public School students could read at grade level in 2022 and in math, only 16 of every 100 were proficient in math. 

Results are even worse for the city’s black students. Just 11% and 6% were at grade level in reading and math, respectively. Hispanics scored only a bit better.

That, despite the fact that Chicago already spends nearly $30,000 per student (all-in cost).

4. Chicago makes it hard for its low-income residents to find jobs.

Chicago had the highest black unemployment rate among the nation’s 20 biggest cities in 2021, according to the most recently available Census Bureau data. Nearly 20% of working-age black Chicagoans were jobless that year.*

It’s not surprising to see Chicago lagging the rest of the country. The city’s job-unfriendly environment is reflected in its loss of flagship companies. Big corporate names like Citadel, Boeing and Tyson have moved their HQ’s out of the area. And in Chicago’s low-income communities, Walmart is closing stores in the city.

Crime and taxes are two often-cited reasons for departure. On top of facing the crime rate mentioned above, Chicago businesses are burdened with the 2nd-highest property taxes among the nation’s big cities.

Restoring Chicago

Increased illegal migration is only going to make each one of those above issues worse.

The city and state were already in financial crisis before the new immigrant wave, and the federal Covid money that covered the problem is now drying up, so Chicago will struggle harder to pay for its out-of-control retirement costs, its social programs, and now, its migrant support.

Those Chicagoans protesting the inflow know they’re the ones who will have to pay the price for the city’s sanctuary status – whether through tax hikes, service cuts, lost opportunities, increased crime, or all of the above.

*For comparison, the city’s black unemployment rate was 12% in pre-pandemic 2019, the 2nd-worst of any big city besides Philadelphia’s 12.1%.

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