Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson migrant crisis
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has been criticized for his handling of the migrant crisis in Chicago JIM VONDRUSKA

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is in the midst of a political and public funding crisis after the city council approved a request for resources to support migrants seeking aid and shelter.

Johnson has faced backlash from Windy City figures, ranging from op-eds and commentary in conservative or progressive media to calls for his removal from office from residents.

Last week, the City Council approved Johnson's request for a $70 million budget allocation for relief to support immigrants and asylum seekers in Chicago. This new allocation is on top of the $150 million the city had already authorized for migrant programs in its 2024 budget.

This additional funding, Johnson said, seeks to help the city prepare for a potential surge of new immigrants ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which will take place in the summer. However, critics argue that the new budget and the city's policies serve more as an invitation for additional immigrants to come to Chicago.

Opponents of Johnson's policies believe the city should prioritize spending on its own residents, especially since Chicago is dealing with a budget deficit of over $1.5 billion. From 2023 to date, Johnson's office has allocated about $300 million for housing, food, and healthcare for the thousands of migrants who have arrived in Chicago.

This dissatisfaction among Chicago residents is being leveraged by some political actors who have called for Johnson's removal through recall proceedings.

One of the figures leading this charge is Dan Boland, an unemployed resident of the Lakeview community on Chicago's North Side. Through the initiative "Recall This Fall," Boland aims to get a recall ordinance on the November election ballots. According to Illinois Policy, this requires gathering signatures from over 56,000 voters.

For now, according to Illinois Policy, a think tank focused on analyzing the state's fiscal policies, Chicago is one of four cities among the 15 largest in the country that is 'unable to recall a mayor.' Illinois Policy states that if the initiative promoted by Boland is successful and makes it onto the November ballot, the recall in Chicago could be voted on in the March 2026 election.

Yes, but we also want a new stadium for the Bears

Render of New Chicago Bears Stadium
A rendering of new Museum Campus project anchored by a new stadium for the Chicago Bears Chicago Bears

While Johnson faces backlash over the millions the city is spending to address the migrant crisis, the mayor has also been advocating for a mega-project to build a new stadium for the Chicago Bears. The proposal involves a $4.7 billion indoor stadium to replace Soldier Field, along with surrounding commercial, residential, and service areas.

Of that amount, taxpayers would need to contribute about $1.5 billion, according to media reports. Johnson, who has assured fans and business leaders of his commitment to keeping the Bears in Chicago, says the project would not only ensure a competitive team but also offer the city green space and create over 24,000 jobs.

'This type of investment is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and we're going to seize the moment,' Johnson said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

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