A group of migrants at a Migrant Landing Zone in Chicago in January. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Chicago Takes Action on the Migrant Crisis. But Are the Voters Any Happier?

Mayor Brandon Johnson says he is getting tough. Not tough enough, according to these Chicagoans.

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In January, Free Press staff writer Olivia Reingold met the Chicagoans furious at their city’s handling of the migrant crisis. 

(Read her dispatch: “They’re Black Democrats. And They’re Suing Chicago Over Migrants.”)

Two months on, Chicago’s progressive mayor Brandon Johnson has finally shown signs that he is listening to the voters who say the city is struggling to handle the strain of new arrivals. 

This week, Chicago began evictions to enforce a new 60-day limit designed to get migrants out of city-run shelters and into permanent housing. The new policy will see more than 2,000 migrants evicted by the end of April. (Approximately 11,000 migrants are currently housed in city-run shelters.) 

Is the eviction policy easing voter anger? Or will the immigration issue continue to turn voters in this deep-blue city red? Olivia made a few calls to find out. 

(Trigger warning: if you’re reading this in the White House and don’t want to be in a bad mood for the rest of the day, you may want to skip the next few paragraphs.) 

Thomas Simmons is a 70-year-old retired city commissioner who says he “used to be a true Democrat.” He told The Free Press that the new 60-day limit is “full of bull. If you’re going to evict them, why not just send them back?”

Simmons, who is black, says the migrant crisis has forced him to reconsider his political allegiances: “It made me more open to Trump. When he wins, he’s going to send them back. . . . Honestly, I’m going for Trump.” 

Roland Dates, a black, 62-year-old lifelong Democrat from Chicago’s West Side, says the migrant crisis keeps getting worse. Speaking to The Free Press the day before the Illinois primary, he said, “I’m going to go straight Republican. . . I’ve got to go with the lesser of two evils.” 

Dates is skeptical that the 60-day eviction policy will really change how the city handles migrants. “That’s a game,” he says. “They say that, but they’ll just get an extension and another extension.” 

Of his voting intentions come November, he says: “I guess Trump’s the man.” 

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman.