May 12, 2023 9:00am

Serafin Power Poll: Federal Government Should Pay Migrant Costs

Low confidence in Johnson’s ability to handle Chicago’s biggest issues

By Robert Klaus
Chicago, IL Correspondent
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Earlier this week, Mayor Lightfoot declared a state of emergency over the number of migrants arriving in the city. Reportedly, more than 8,000 migrants have come to Chicago, many bussed in from Texas in what Lightfoot has called a “political stunt” by Gov. Greg Abbot. Regardless, the result is migrant families sleeping on the floor at police stations and airports. The City Council is moving to spend $51 million of budget surplus money on services for the migrants, but reports indicate that would be a stop-gap effort at best. We asked Serafin Power Pollers who they think should pay the lion’s share of the costs and the majority (82%) think the federal government needs to step up, with immigration being a federal issue. A further 13% think Chicago should pay because of its choice to be a sanctuary city, while only 5% think the State, which has passed legislation to welcome refugees, should be responsible for the funding.

These problems soon won’t be Lori Lightfoot’s to deal with, however as Brandon Johnson will be sworn in as Chicago’s 57th mayor on May 15. In addition to the rising number of migrants, he will face issues ranging from rampant crime to social and economic disparities to CTA underperformance. Most Serafin Power Poll respondents (60%) have some doubts in the incoming mayor’s ability to handle these pressing issues: 28% of respondents say they are very unconfident while 32% say they’re somewhat unconfident. A total of 41% have confidence, either feeling somewhat confident (35%) or very confident (6%).

One step Mayor-elect Johnson has already taken is naming Fred Waller as interim CPD Superintendent, replacing the outgoing David Brown. Brown, who was the Chief of the Dallas Police Department before coming to Chicago, lasted just under three years as Chicago’s top cop. Waller, who is retired from CPD, is reportedly not being considered for the full-time job. So, we asked Serafin Power Pollers where CPD should find its next superintendent: 61% think the right person to hire will come from within CPD. Another 23% would rather see someone outside of CPD get the job, while 16% don’t think it matters whether the person has experience at CPD or not.

Continuing a year of shake-ups, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced in late April that she will not be seeking re-election. Initially an underdog candidate, Foxx swept into office on promises of criminal justice reforms, but many know her more for the handling of the Jussie Smollett case. We asked Serafin Power Pollers what Foxx’s lasting legacy would be and the leading vote-getter was returning offenders to the streets (46%), followed by the Jussie Smollett case (31%). Only 23% think her legacy will be more positive, either her efforts for criminal justice equity (13%) or overturning wrongful convictions (10%).

After months of speculation, it’s official: Democrats across the country will descend on Chicago for the 2024 Democratic National Convention. With President Biden announcing his re-election, the convention may not be as interesting as some had thought, but nothing’s over until it’s over. The majority of Serafin Power Pollers (61%) are excited for the convention and think it will be good for the city. The same amount of respondents (20%) wish the DNC wasn’t coming as those who don’t care either way.

A total of 418 Serafin Power Poll members were surveyed and the participation rate was 24.9%. The Serafin Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather a fascinating and non-partisan glimpse into the attitudes and opinions of the decision-makers and thought leaders in the Chicago region. See all Serafin Power Poll articles at

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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