(Bloomberg) -- From New York to Denver, city and state officials have asked President Joe Biden to pay their bills for housing migrants. So far, they haven’t got much help.

Now one politician in Illinois is trying a different approach to amp up pressure. Comptroller Susana Mendoza is opening the state’s books to the public with an online portal that allows anyone to track how money is being spent. She plans to use the tally to garner state support for her pitch to claw back funds from the federal government.

There’s precedent for that, Mendoza said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Chicago. When the pandemic hit, states paid for things like gloves and masks before assistance from the federal government started flowing in. Illinois should also get aid now, said Mendoza, who wants reimbursement for a bill that has already reached $478 million.

“We should be able to claw back those funds,” said Mendoza, a second-term Democrat who is responsible for cutting the checks to pay the state’s bills. “This is a situation that the federal government has allowed to happen and now states are having to deal with it.”

Her strategy to cope with the more than 36,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in Chicago since 2022, many from Texas, is likely to face headwinds. New York City Mayor Eric Adams got just $30.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a fraction of the $350 million in aid it had requested. Cities like Denver are also petitioning for federal dollars.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, one of the president’s biggest backers, declined to comment on Mendoza’s pitch.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s strategy to bus migrants from the southern border to major American cities like Chicago and New York has been billed as a political stunt by Democrats. Mendoza expects that flow to continue or even increase ahead of the Democratic National Convention taking place in Chicago in August.

“Governor Abbott is going to keep sending more and more and more,” she said. “He wants to see the chaos, right? He wants to make this a real eyesore for the nation during what’s supposed to be our shining moment.”

A spokesman for Abbott said Mendoza should “call on her party leader to finally do his job and secure the border” instead of complaining about Texas’s move. 

Mendoza, who previously ran for mayor of Chicago, said she’d like to see more transparency from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration on how it’s spending money related to the crisis. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have pledged about $182 million and $70 million respectively, while Johnson has been noncommittal about the city’s contribution.

In a separate interview, Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer Jill Jaworski said the city is looking into contingency plans for additional funding but has not finalized decisions. 

“The challenge for the city is that this is really a national issue that is being borne by a small number of cities right now,” she said. “We need the federal government to step up and help manage the situation and provide funding.”

--With assistance from Julie Fine and Danielle Moran.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.