Pritzker ‘Apologizes’ To Burr Ridge Mayor Over Response To Migrants

BURR RIDGE, IL — A day after demanding an apology from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his characterization of the village’s response to asylum seekers arriving in Burr Ridge recently, Mayor Gary Grasso received a letter from the governor containing an apology — but with more criticism as well.

Pritzker sent the letter to Grasso on Thursday apologizing for the delay in the governor’s office contacting the Mayor about the arrival of 64 migrants, who were among hundreds sent to northern sanctuary cities from Texas.

Patch obtained a copy of the letter from the governor’s press secretary on Thursday but when Grasso spoke with Patch Friday morning, he said the village had not received the letter. Grasso said he only had seen it Friday morning after it was passed onto him by a Patch editor.

Grasso told Patch that he did not receive Pritzker’s letter until after 10 a.m. on Friday. In his letter of response on Friday, Grasso said “had it ended where it started where it began – with appreciation of my commitment to be welcoming to the refugees and your apology for your office’s “inadvertent delay in connecting the Village – I would have accepted it and moved on.”

But, the mayor wrote to Pritzker, “the rest of your letter took a different tone.”

Grasso sent the letter to Pritzker’s office earlier this week, adding the governor to the list of political officials he had expressed concern to over the asylum-seekers being sent to Burr Ridge.

But while Pritzker wrote in the letter that he appreciated Grasso’s “commitment to be more welcoming to these asylum seekers than your initial comments suggest,” the governor asked Grasso to “reflect on the negative environment” he created in Burr Ridge, the letter said. He also asked Grasso to apologize to the migrants for creating an “unwelcoming reception.”

Pritzker’s letter comes a week after the governor’s office suggested village officials showed “xenophobia” in their reaction to the migrant’s arrival. Grasso told Patch on Friday that he didn’t expect to hear from Pritzker’s office but that the governor reacted faster to his letter than he did to the entire situation.

Grasso, a Republican, said he has gotten no pushback from the letter he sent to Pritzker, a Democrat. In his response to the governor on Friday, Grasso took exception to several of the bullet points from Pritzker in which the Mayor said that parts of the governor’s response are not accurate representations of what has taken place in Burr Ridge since the asylum-seekers arrrived.

In addition to saying Grasso created the unwelcoming environment, Pritzker criticized the mayor for saying the migrants were “supposedly” here legally. The governor said that the migrants were in the United legally “under a process established for decades.”

After Grasso said last week that village officials were caught off-guard by the arrival of migrants, Pritzker said that his office contacted village officials twice on Sept. 8 and put the village in contact with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Grasso also spoke with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week after many migrants who were to be sent to Chicago ended up in other municipalities including Burr Ridge. Grasso said that Lightfoot had apologized to him

He also said Grasso threatened the business license of the local hotel where the migrants were taken, which Pritzker said, “has a chilling effect on businesses” and on the community because Grasso was “fear-mongering”, according to the governor.

The governor said the hotel has a contract with the state to provide emergency rooms, as was the case earlier this year when Afghan refugees were brought to Burr Ridge. He also said that the mayor’s initial questions had more to do with the asylum-seekers legal status rather than the village’s obligation to help them.

In response on Friday, Grasso said that once he learned the hotel had a contract with the state to house people on an emergency basis, he “emphatically told the hotel that long-term housing of refugees should be cleared through the Village.

Grasso said earlier this week that he does not expect any more migrants to arrive in Burr Ridge, although Pritzker thanked the mayor for his commitment to a moral obligation to help.

He continued: “As you are aware, the state of Illinois has significantly more responsibilities to these asylum seekers than the town of Burr Ridge,” Pritzker wrote in the letter. “But I am pleased to see that you believe we all share in the moral obligation to be more welcoming.”

In response on Friday, Grasso wished Pritzker “the best in a difficult time” but must state in closing that the significant responsibilities you mention the State has to the refugees cannot eclipse the rights of municipal communities and citizens of Illinois who are your first priority.”


via Burr Ridge Patch

September 16, 2022 at 03:05PM

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