The following is a transcript of an interview with Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker that aired on “Face the Nation” on Oct. 8, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: With the Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker has many of the same concerns. And he’s joining us this morning from Chicago. Governor, thank you for joining us. Of course, we should say, in order to do many of the things you and the Mayor are asking for, we need a Congress to legislate and to legislate, you need a Speaker of the House and we are stuck. So at the moment, though, I want to understand what it is that you’re asking President Biden to do, because you had a pretty sharply worded letter this past week, talking about “the federal government’s lack of intervention and coordination, creating an untenable situation in Illinois.” Did the White House respond, have they fixed your problem?
GOVERNOR J.B. PRITZKER: Well, thanks and good morning, Margaret. Let me also begin by sending our condolences, and you know, our hearts are with the people of Israel at this moment. The- the families of those who died and also the people who have been kidnapped and taken hostage by these terrorists. So, the United States stands with Israel, and so does the state of Illinois. And so do I personally. Let me answer your question by saying that, you know, we were very clear in our communication with the White House that what we need is logistical support, that is help deciding where these folks are to go, because they can’t all go to Chicago and New York, and DC. They need to go in places where there’s even more help to offer. We, of course, are a welcoming state and have been caring for the people who’ve arrived. But we can’t bear the burden only ourselves. So, we communicated that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Who can? Where do they go?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, let me also say that the White House has been told, you know, we need resources, and you’re talking about the Congress, being in chaos. The House of Representatives is opposed to any kind of comprehensive immigration reform. It seems like now is the moment to talk about border security and immigration reform. We want immigrants in the United States, we also want border security, it seems like there’s a compromise there that can occur. But look, there are lots of places in the country where there are NGOs that can be of assistance to these folks who have arrived. They’re here legally, they have refuge in the United States, for the moment. My family were refugees to this country too. We ought to welcome them, put them through a process. And if they don’t meet the requirements, they should be sent back. And that’s what the President is beginning to do now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Beginning to do with that announcement that Venezuela will now accept some deportations. But on that- on that point, you were pretty prescriptive in your letter. You said you need a single office with an identified leader You told the President, take a more active role, you recommend he put one person in charge who works directly for him. This sounds like a management 101, how did that go over?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, they- they heard me, you know, there are so many departments that are responsible for helping to care for these asylum seekers, as well as managing them as they cross the border, I hope that they will put one office together, I know the White House right now is coordinating it, but they need one office. And in my opinion, one person at the head of that office that we can call that we can work with to coordinate because, look, we’re providing shelter as best we can and providing for the needs of these folks arriving in Chicago. And as I say, we’re a welcoming state, and we understand the humanitarian crisis that we’re addressing. But we can’t address this all by ourselves, and we need help from the White House. One example of this is this communication that I think needs to occur with data so that we can understand who’s arriving, and when they’re arriving, and whether they have relatives already in the United States who might be able to help care for them. None of that is being done at the border. That’s where it ought to be done. And then folks shouldn’t- should be told that it’s gonna get cold in Chicago and New York very soon. And there are lots of other places in the country that they might want to consider going. And the White House and the federal government should be facilitating that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, I appreciate your focus on the human element here. I want to ask you about the political. The Democratic convention’s in Chicago next year. Are you confident that your city and your state are gonna have a better grasp on it by this time?
GOV. PRITZKER: I am confident that we can handle it. But again, it will require help from the federal government, and someone needs to work in Texas with these border politicians to have them stop sending people only to blue cities and blue states. And the President of the United States and the White House has the ability to help disperse folks across the country. That will help a lot. But we are managing in the city of Chicago in the state of Illinois as best we can in the circumstances, but not if just those few politicians in Texas are taking responsibility for this. It needs to be a federal, national problem that gets handled at the national level.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Pritzker, thank you for your time this morning. We’ll be back in a moment.
GOV. PRITZKER: Thanks, Margaret.