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Elk Grove Village Mayor Provides Update On Texas MigrantsFree Access

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson (center) and village trustees at their Tuesday, Sept. 13 village board meeting. (Tom Robb/Journal photo)

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson gave a detailed timeline update on how a bus load of 90 Venezuelan migrants, who arrived in Chicago Friday, sent from the Texas border by Gov. Greg Abbott, ended up in Elk Grove Village and how the village is working to help them.

The village designated Marty Vela, a senior clerk with the village, to coordinate donations for the migrants. Johnson said the group was made up of 81 men, six or seven women, and at least one woman who is eight months pregnant.

“These migrants are human beings,” Johnson said, adding that President Joe Biden declared them legal migrants, meaning they are able to work in the United States.

“This village takes pride in welcoming and working with every person,” Johnson continued. “These migrants have a right to be treated with dignity. We care about them as we care about everyone else who comes to this village.”

Over the weekend, Johnson directed much of his ire at Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, as migrants arrived on Chicago CTA buses, having been told by Illinois state officials that because of next month’s Chicago marathon, the city needed the hotel rooms.

Johnson said Lightfoot called him at home Sunday afternoon. “Mayors work well together, we talked it through,” said Johnson. “She said, ‘I’m as frustrated as you.’” Johnson said Lightfoot said she was unaware CTA buses were used to bring the migrants to Elk Grove Village and was also frustrated with state officials. He said village officials are working closely with Chicago officials. but said he is still having difficulty getting anyone from the state of Illinois to return calls or emails.

Johnson said Gov. JB Pritzker said, “Xenophobia has no home here.” By here, Johnson said he took that to mean suburban communities, including Elk Grove Village, that are taking migrants in. He demanded an apology from the governor both at Tuesday’s village board meeting and on a national news broadcast Wednesday morning. 

The Journal was unable to reach Pritzker’s spokeswoman for comment before press deadlines Wednesday. A state official familiar with the situation, speaking with the Journal on background, confirmed the governor made the statement but said it was directed at Texas Gov. Abbott, not suburban mayors.

Johnson said he is aware of many Elk Grove Village residents wanting to help the migrants in any way they can.

A Facebook group, Elk Grove Village Migrants – Offering Our Support, was formed over the weekend. As of Wednesday, the group had 370 members.

Church groups, including officials with the Elk Grove Presbyterian Church, said they and their parishioners want to give, but do not have clear direction on how to give and do not have resources for much storage. Linda Mueller of the church said Monday that she had found places to purchase clothing for the migrants wholesale, but said she was lacking information.

Johnson said three of the migrants have already secured jobs in Elk Grove Village. He said he wants to work with the state to find more jobs for the migrants, but has been hampered in efforts to do so thus far. 

Marissa Kollias, communications director for the Illinois Dept. of Human Services, said finding the migrants work is part of the package of services the state is trying to provide and was encouraged to hear the mayor wanting to facilitate that. 

Rumors on Facebook and with others seeking to help have said 40 more migrants are expected to arrive within Elk Grove Village in the coming days. Kolias said she is not aware of any more migrants bound for Elk Grove Village or how long the current migrants might stay in the village, adding, “This is a rapidly evolving situation. We’re making decisions on the hour.”

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