Suburban Mayor Says He Was Unaware Migrants Bused To Chicago Would Be Moved to His Community

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As more buses of migrants arrive in Chicago from Texas -- part of a controversial plan from Gov. Greg Abbott's administration that is sending asylum-seekers off to northern, Democrat-led "sanctuary cities" -- the mayor of a western Chicago suburb says he was left in the dark after 64 migrants arrived in his village this week.

"As we sit here today, right now, I have not gotten an official word from the city, from the state, or Cook County," Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso told NBC 5 Thursday in an interview.

In a statement, the village of Burr Ridge confirmed it received 64 refugees Wednesday, which were transported from the Salvation Army Shield of Hope in Chicago. The refugees were ultimately assigned to temporary hotel housing in Burr Ridge.

"Neither village elected officials nor staff were consulted or contacted about this decision and we are now gathering information to keep our community updated."

Last week, when the first migrants arrived in the city, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her administration was aware of the plan, and that the city was working to find shelter and other services for individuals bused in.

"This is such an important moment for Chicago as our city has been a sanctuary for thousands of newcomers. We are welcoming them and we will not turn our backs on those who need our help the most," Lightfoot said last Wednesday in a statement.

"We understand that many are fleeing violent, traumatic, or otherwise unstable environments," the statement continued. "We will respond with essential services while these individuals navigate the next steps of their journey and our community partners have been working diligently to provide a safety net."

However, in an interview with NBC 5, Grasso said he had only had second-hand knowledge that any migrants would be arriving in Burr Ridge.

According to the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois is in charge of transporting migrants and mitigating those efforts.

"These people should not be used as pawns," Grasso said during the interview. "They should get their lives in order, and I'm glad that they are going to start in Burr Ridge."

In a statement, the Illinois Department of Human Services said the state has so far welcomed nearly 300 migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, "most coming to Illinois with only the clothes on their backs."

In a request for comment, the state told NBC 5 " Many [migrants] are receiving temporary shelter in urban and suburban hotels that have provided refuge for vulnerable families from Afghanistan and other parts of the world. We are grateful for the hospitality and care they have received from individuals and organizations across Illinois."

"We will continue taking action to ensure everyone in Illinois has access to shelter, food, healthcare, and other basic, essential supports," the statement continued. "We anticipate that the State of Texas will continue to bus migrants to Illinois, and we remain committed to helping welcome new arrivals in a responsible, orderly and compassionate way."

In Burr Ridge, Grasso says the village is committed to supporting the refugees, who are primarily families with children. According to village officials, the migrants are expected to remain in temporary housing in the suburb "over the next few weeks, but ultimately move on no more than 30 days from this date."

Village officials also noted that they expect the number of refugees staying in the community to decrease over time, as many of them work to establish housing and employment.

Burr Ridge says that earlier this year, the village also hosted asylum-seeking refugees from Afghanistan, "who have now found permanent housing and employment."

Those wishing to donate materials can do so through the City of Chicago, officials say.

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