Week in Review: Immigration, gun ban, energy assistance & more


Thousands of migrants crowd into Chicago without shelter as winter approaches. No plans existed for the more than 25,000 migrants now in the Chicago area who do not have permanent legal status in the United States. The word “migrant” often refers to people who cross the U.S. border, present themselves to law enforcement, and claim status as refugees under what is described as international law. Hypothetically, these persons have a right to stay in the United States. In return for the right to stay temporarily in the United States, people in this category are supposed to be on call as their legal status to be classified as a refugee is adjudicated. The number of migrants claiming refugee status has overwhelmed the ability of U.S. courts of immigration law to adjudicate these cases. Persons in this category now number in the many hundreds of thousands throughout the U.S.

In Chicago, many migrants claiming status as refugees are homeless. The migrant crisis has become a catastrophe from both a humanitarian and budgetary aspect. Although the Chicago area has one of the highest tax rates in the country, there does not appear to be any structure in place under which some of these people can be housed for Chicago winter conditions and others can be sent elsewhere. After many weeks of press coverage, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson eventually prioritized the construction of what was described as a “migrant tent city” in a Brighton Park location on Chicago’s South Side. The chosen location had been a railroad-adjacent vacant lot on a site previously used for the manufacturing and conversion of metal goods. Tests of the site revealed substantial levels of toxic chemicals on the site.

This week, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the State of Illinois would not support construction of a camp for migrants at Brighton Park. The announcement meant that the 2,000 migrants who would have been housed at the Brighton Park site currently have no suitable place to shelter as winter approaches.


CGFA report was the appearance of a slowdown in Illinois personal income tax revenues. This line, which had generated $1.915 billion in State revenue in November 2022, dropped to $1.802 billion in November 2023. This decline of $113 million reflected not only job losses but also declines in ancillary tax payments submitted by individuals from income earned from investments and other non-paycheck pathways. Sales tax revenues also dropped by $20 million during the same period.

The one-month decline in personal income tax revenues reported by CGFA came after several months of strong tax payments to start off fiscal year 2024 (FY24). For the five-month period starting July 1, 2023, personal income tax revenues were up $510 million over the previous year. This healthy revenue gain helped power the heavy spending patterns mandated by the Democrats’ FY24 State Budget. For FY24, Illinois is slated to spend $50.428 billion in new general funds, which include state programmatic spending, debt service, and pension payments. According to the CGFA Budget Summary, the State is expecting to bring in $50.611 billion. This spending plan will leave little margin for error should revenues come in below target during the second half of the fiscal year.


Illinois’ gun ban law before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ban on certain classes of firearms and magazines, called the Protect Illinois Communities Act, is being appealed through the federal courts. Plaintiffs assert that the measure, in addition to containing elements of unconstitutional vagueness, constitutes a violation of the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents. The Act was passed by Democrats during a lame duck General Assembly session on January 10, 2023.

A recent decision rendered on the Act by a three-judge federal appellate panel opened the door for an appeal to the federal Supreme Court. A separate door was also opened by this decision to petition the appellate court for a rehearing of the case, with all of the judges of the appellate court asked to come together to render judgment, but this week’s action centered on the U.S. Supreme Court appeal.

The Supreme Court can issue a preliminary injunction to suspend enforcement of the law. A preliminary injunction may be issued with respect to any legal case if a court finds that, in connection with that case, the infringement of a right or interest threatens an irreparable injury to a party with legitimate standing. A plaintiff filed appeal papers against the Act on the federal Supreme Court docket on Thursday, November 30, with a response required by the State of Illinois by Wednesday, December 6.


Already the world’s largest fast-food chain, Illinois-based McDonald’s announces plans for 10,000 more restaurants. With 40,275 owned and franchised restaurants operating worldwide as of January 1, 2023, the “Golden Arches” chain feeds millions of people every day. At McDonald’s Chicago headquarters this week, corporate spokespersons unveiled plans to move towards a global goal of 50,000 McDonald’s locations by December 31, 2027.

The five-year expansion plan centers on international growth (7,000 new locations outside the U.S.) and expansion of the McDonald’s loyalty program. This loyalty program, which enables repeat customers to accumulate loyalty points, currently enrolls 150 million customers worldwide and sells them $20 billion in annual goods and services. The program’s end-of-2027 goal is 250 million loyalty customers and $45 billion in annual sales.

While many of the new stores will be owned or operated in locations that are distant from Illinois, continued maximization of the loyalty-program concept will require close attention to coordinated financial planning. Many of the professional personnel that will guide and promote this program will be Illinoisans or personnel that will rotate in and out of Illinois. McDonald’s believes that its McDonalds System headquarters supports more than 5,800 jobs in Chicago and surrounding Cook County.


LIHEAP application window opens for households struggling with high home energy costs. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides federal assistance for persons who will need help paying their heating bills for natural gas or propane for the winter of 2023-2024. The LIHEAP application process is now underway.

A series of trigger events, combined with a household income that meets the LIHEAP program’s eligibility ceilings, create the ability to submit a valid application for the program. The applicant must affirm that his or her household’s income is below the LIHEAP cutoff point. Income is measured in relation to the federal poverty level (FPL), with 200% of FPL being the cutoff. The FPL goes up or down depending on how many people are in the household and is annually adjusted for inflation. For the winter of 2023-2024, the FPL for a four-person family is $2,500/month; and so, the LIHEAP eligibility ceiling would be $5,000/month (equivalent to an annual income of $60,000/year) for the same family. Income eligibility is calculated on a 30-day basis.

Trigger events that complete LIHEAP eligibility include but are not limited to: (a) getting a shutoff notice from the natural gas company or other energy services provider; (b) getting disconnected from energy services; or (c) having an empty or near-empty propane tank. Applicants will have to submit documentation about their income and energy status to complete the application. Applications are submitted to the Community Action Agency with jurisdiction over the county where the applicant lives. More information about LIHEAP, and how to apply to each county’s agency, can be found on the Community Action Agencies webpage within the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).