A Statement By Joliet Township Supervisor Expected Today While State Senator Rachel Ventura Releases Her Statement

Joliet migrant funding controversy continues. Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras did not attend last night’s Joliet City Council meeting.

The $8.6 million dollar grant to help asylum seekers came about after two organizations filed a Memorandum of Understanding with Joliet Township. When Governor Pritzker made the announcement Friday that Joliet Township would be getting money, local officials were blindsided and Joliet Mayor Terry Darcy says accepting the grant would put a strain on Joliet services and to the community.

At last night City Council meeting, Mayor D’Arcy said he spoke briefly with Contreras who and he said he would have a statement today.

WJOL has reached out to all the Joliet Township officials for comment but as of last night they have not responded.

Word is that the grant came about after two organizations filed Memorandum Of Understanding with Joliet Township. The next Joliet Township public hearing will be October 10th at 5pm at the Joliet Township Offices on Jefferson.

Meanwhile State Senator Rachel Ventura releasing a statement saying while she didn’t know the details of the grant, she did speak to Contreras about it. She says while she supports individuals already here, she says it is not an invitation for more.

Ventura’s entire statement below:

State Senator Rachel Ventura (D-Joliet) released the following statement regarding the $8.6 million being granted to the Joliet Township to help with the thousands of migrants who
have arrived in Illinois: I was made aware that the Joliet Township was pursuing a grant to house migrant refugees. I was not given details at the time nor was I involved in the discussions. Since then, I have talked with both the Supervisor of the Township, Angel Contreras, as well as the City Mayor, Terry D’Arcy.

I want to be clear that supporting the individuals already here is not an invitation for more. We have an existing housing crisis in Joliet and Will County that is compounded by the lack of
housing providers, but the continuum of care and individual agencies are still required to help individuals who need support. To do so with no additional funding handicaps those agencies and puts a greater strain on local government. We have a humanitarian crisis in our country and as a whole we know the importance of helping others. Transparency in this process can help elevate fears while providing the much-needed support. In my discussions with Department of Human Services, the township will need to summit adaptations to the plan since only 71% of the grant ask was awarded. Therefore, several more steps and additional conversations will need to happen before any grant dollars are released. Department of Human Services said “While an award has been made to Joliet Township, that is subject to both an updated budget and entering into a grant agreement. No grant monies are paid until a grant agreement has been completed. As part of this process, the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus, as the administrator and monitor of this program, will be asking the Township to provide additional information on any listed support and partnerships and once confirmed, how they will support asylum seekers.”

Right now, there is political rhetoric aimed to enflame the country, surrounding the national Republican political stunt to bring refugees across the border and abandon them in Chicago.
Most of this rhetoric is not grounded in fact and is aimed at fanning flames of fear.

Many of our social service agencies in Will County and across Illinois are already strained with elevated numbers of people facing housing insecurity, food insecurity, and medical needs. These problems existed and were growing long before the Governor of Texas launched a media stunt aimed at dividing America.

Our communities and these organizations need the financial support to deal with the influx of people. We all need to work together to make sure that these resources go to support long-
term solutions and address viable affordable housing needs. We need to make sure that we are addressing the needs of those who already live here, as well as those who are coming to
America seeking legal asylum.

Many of us are just now digging into the details of the DHS grant to provide emergency services for asylum seekers. I look forward to hearing what the township has planned for the $8.6 million in resources to address this crisis. It is my hope that cool heads at all levels of government will prevail, and work together regionally to do our part to address this humanitarian crisis.