JOLIET, Ill. — In an unexpected turn of events, Joliet Township’s decision to apply for a substantial asylum grant has left the Will County Board reeling.
Judy Ogalla, the Chair of the Will County Board, publicly aired her concerns, questioning the county’s capacity to efficiently and monetarily support an influx of asylum seekers. Expressing her surprise, Ogalla pointed out that the township’s application for a whopping $12.1M was made without notifying the City of Joliet or Will County.
“As the Chair of the Will County Board, I support Mayor D’Arcy’s request to have the Joliet Township withdraw their asylum grant application,” Ogalla said in a statement Friday. “I am very concerned that the County’s Health Department, the Sheriff’s Department, as well as many other county departments can efficiently and monetarily support thousands of asylum seekers.”
This situation became murkier after Gov. JB Pritzker announced $41.5 million in awards for local governments in the Chicago region that are supporting asylum seekers. Joliet Township, rather than the City of Joliet, emerged as the second-largest recipient, bagging a considerable $8.6 million. This move puzzled many, leading to further clarifications by city officials who were quick to distance themselves from the award, emphasizing their non-involvement.
City officials encouraged concerned residents to reach out directly to Supervisor Angel Contreras and other Joliet Township authorities for answers.
While the city remains removed from the grant’s proceedings, the unexpected and sizable application has thrust the matter onto the agenda for the next city council meeting.
You can read Ogalla’s full statement below:
“October 6, 2023
Statement by Chair of the Will County Board, Judy Ogalla
As the Chair of the Will County Board, I support Mayor D’Arcy’s request to have the Joliet Township withdraw their asylum grant application. I am very concerned that the County’s Health Department, the Sheriff’s Department, as well as many other county departments can efficiently and monetarily support thousands of asylum seekers.
In my opinion, it was extremely irresponsible for the Joliet Township to apply for this grant without notifying the City of Joliet and Will County. I know that there have been other open and on-going conversations with the Joliet Township Supervisor on other subjects; there is no reason this topic was not discussed.”
I did not have a conversation with the Joliet Township Supervisor, and much like the Mayor of Joliet, I was unaware that Joliet Township applied for this grant.
This is an ongoing situation and should be discussed Countywide, with the Will County Board included, before any decisions are made that affect the residents of Will County. The Will County Board is responsible first, to their constituents, and as such, needs to have a seat at the table when these decisions are being made.