Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is ready for his city to host 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.
The Windy City mayor told the newspaper in a statement, “The influx of unaccompanied child migrants is a growing humanitarian crisis that we can no longer ignore.”
Emanuel added that the city will work to ensure that the unaccompanied children, tens of thousands of whom have been streaming across the nation’s southwestern border since October, “are given access to services and treated fairly and humanely.”
Funding for shelter and services for the additional children would come from the federal government, according to the Tribune. The facilities would be newly built and would be in addition to nine existing shelters in the Chicago area that currently hold roughly 500 beds for immigrant children, the paper reported.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced last week that his city planned to shelter some unaccompanied child migrants as well.
Aides to Emanuel told the Tribune that the decision to expand Chicago’s shelter space was made after U.S. government officials floated the idea. Emanuel was previously President Obama’s chief of staff, and he also served as a U.S. congressman representing Illinois.
More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S. border in the October, creating a humanitarian crisis and a political problem for the Obama administration.
The White House and Congress have continued to disagree over what to do about the immigration crisis. The White House is considering granting refugee status to some of the children who have fled from Honduras. Obama met with the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras Friday at the White House, saying the border crisis is an issue of “shared responsibility.”
Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to address the border crisis. Republicans have argued that the president’s proposal is too costly, and Democratic lawmakers have proposed a funding bill that would direct $2.7 billion to address the current crisis.
But time to deal with the influx of undocumented immigrants is running short, as Congress’s month-long August recess fast approaches.
After a GOP conference meeting Friday on the border crisis, Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina told msnbc’s Jose Diaz-Balart that he feels House Republicans are ready to act on immigration reform before the lawmakers’ break. Obama on Friday also urged Congress to stay in Washington long enough “to help solve this problem.”