NEW YORK — A coalition of big city mayors is headed to Washington on Thursday to urge the federal government to offer more help with the surge in migrants that are overwhelming their cities’ budgets and services.
The Democratic entourage will include the mayors of New York City and Chicago, along with Denver Mayor Michael Johnston, according to a press release from his office. Johnston is leading the group.
Ahead of the trip, several mayors weighed in on the crisis facing their cities, including the mayors from Los Angeles and Houston. They wrote a letter to the administration earlier in the day to plead their case, asking for a meeting with President Joe Biden, more aid and a quicker path to work authorization for the migrants.
“This is not sustainable, what you’re seeing in Chicago, where children are sleeping in police precincts; and this is not sustainable what we are attempting to do in Floyd Bennett field,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said during a television appearance Wednesday night, referring to a new tent facility in Brooklyn. “We need to have the same voice.”
The group is expected to meet with Biden administration officials overseeing various parts of the immigration process and members of Congress, though it has not specified whether the mayors will talk with the president.
“The federal government has to do more,” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday, noting temperatures have fallen below freezing in the Midwest city this week. “Look, Chicago is leaning in. We have borne the brunt of the responsibility here. That’s not an equitable distribution of how the government should operate.”
Adams vowed earlier this year to recruit his colleagues around the country to collectively pressure the Biden administration on the issue.
Thursday’s delegation, however, is being led by Johnston, who took office in July and immediately began reaching out to colleagues to see if they would want to join forces, according to an aide who spoke with POLITICO.
“He picked up the phone and started calling mayors of other cities that have been dealing with this — and was able to build a like-minded coalition very quickly,” Evan Dreyer, Johnston’s deputy chief of staff, said in an interview.
The newly elected Democrat also has something else going for him: a far less contentious relationship with the White House than his New York City counterpart.
The once-warm relationship between Biden and Adams has been reduced to tatters over the mayor’s vocal condemnation of the White House, specifically for its lack of support for cities struggling with the migrant crisis.
Other mayors of major cities they are too pressing the White House for help, despite not being part of the recent letter or sojourn.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu isn’t part of the group, but said she continues to talk regularly with federal officials on the city’s troubles housing its migrant population.
“I know the governor and I are both tuned in, and we will go to Washington if it’s needed,” Wu told reporters Wednesday. “But right now we are taking action and making sure that we can see work happening here on the ground.”
Shia Kapos and Kelly Garrity contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the mayors expected to travel to Washington.
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