Illinois as a Sanctuary State is Costing Taxpayers Billions

Due to the TRUST Act, which was enacted in 2017, Illinois has become a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. Law enforcement agencies are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to detain or deport these individuals. 

The crisis at the southern border can no longer be ignored. In September alone, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 200,000 migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. 

There are approximately 628,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois, costing taxpayers nearly $3 billion annually. The situation is so dire that Democratic leaders in Illinois have reached out to the White House for financial help while also asking for a federal coordinated effort to control the massive influx of undocumented immigrants at the southern border. 

The current migrant influx into Chicago has reached a crisis point from humanitarian, safety, and cost aspects. Since the first group of migrants sent to Chicago on a bus from Texas arrived nearly 15 months ago, more than 18,500 people have made their way to Chicago. More than 2,900 undocumented immigrants are living on the floors of police stations and Chicago’s airports awaiting placement in shelters. 

The migrant crisis is projected to cost Chicago taxpayers $361 million in 2023. In a city already plagued by violent crime, migrant encampments have exacerbated the violence in Chicago. There have been a number of reported incidents, but it is unclear how many of the migrants have become victims of violence or have committed violent acts since arriving in Chicago. Due to the TRUST Act, law enforcement personnel are not allowed to ask a person’s status, so that information is not able to be tracked. 

In response to this crisis, two Chicago aldermen have introduced a resolution to place a referendum on the March ballot that asking voters if Chicago should remain a sanctuary city. In a recent poll of Chicago voters, 46 percent of those polled said no more sanctuary city, 39 percent said Chicago should remain one and 14 percent were unsure. 

As a sanctuary state, Illinois is giving undocumented immigrants access to free health care benefits, driver’s licenses, housing assistance and other benefits. Earlier this year, it was reported that the estimated cost of the health care benefits program for undocumented immigrants had ballooned to $1.1 billion. Illinois House Republicans have called for a moratorium on enrollment and expansion of this benefits program, as well as an audit of program costs. 

With resources drying up and enrollment caps being hit already, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services recently announced a temporary pause on new enrollees in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program. An analysis from September 2023 shows the benefits program is expected to cost $831 million in FY 2024, which is $281 million more than the $550 million amount appropriated for the program. 

Illinois House Republicans are introducing legislation aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis in Chicago. House Bill 4187 repeals the Illinois TRUST Act, ending our status as a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. It would allow our local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. This legislation is necessary to change the narrative away from Illinois as a land of bountiful government benefits for migrants. The time has come to end Illinois’ status as a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. We must repeal the TRUST Act now!

“Policies within the TRUST Act are nothing more than weights sitting on hard working citizens,” Rep. Rosenthal stated. “There is always a breaking point, and I think Illinois leaders to take a hard look at the near future and decide which priorities are in the best interest for the citizens of Illinois.”