Chicago’s newly elected mayor Lori Lightfoot said she will take shipments of immigrants seeking asylum if they are sent to Chicago. Chicago is a sanctuary city, and Lightfoot has yet to be sworn in.

Lightfoot said Chicago has been dealing with immigration issues for decades. This comes as a response to President Trump’s promise to send illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities if border patrol agents are not allowed to turn them away. She was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on air on April 12.

When asked if she would continue to have open arms for illegal immigrants when she is mayor—as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has in the past—Lightfoot said, “We have people who are routinely coming to the city. We have a whole infrastructure that’s built up to make sure that their rights are protected.”

“The city of Chicago has under the current administration provided funding for various groups to help support asylum seekers and other people that are going through the immigration court system. I expect that we’ll continue if not expand upon those kinds of resources.”

Far-reaching Goals

But Chicago’s new mayor may be underestimating what the burden taking in large amounts of illegal immigrants seeking asylum will be.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report [PDF] released in March 2019, from 2015 to 2017 only 788 individuals were granted asylum in Chicago. That was less than 6 percent of the total granted asylum in the entire United States during that time.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services quarterly report [PDF] from February 2017 shows that Chicago had only 769 cases filed for that quarter.

However, there were only 341 cases completed, only 99 cases were approved, and an astounding 16,014 cases were still pending in Chicago, the only city in Illinois that offers sanctuary.

In the United States, there were a total of 161,000 asylum applications filed in the last fiscal year and 46,000 in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts.