About 200 Venezuelan asylum-seekers are being accommodated at a hotel in Prospect Heights, among them about 60 children now enrolled in classes in Wheeling Township Elementary District 21.
Acting Mayor Matthew Dolick said the city received a couple of days’ notice of the arrivals, and gave great credit to the hotel for welcoming the migrants. He added that he is especially proud of the efforts of District 21 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
“We need to be sympathetic as a city and accommodate these migrants as best we can,” Dolick said.
The migrants are among the latest sent to the Chicago area after initially entering the U.S. in Texas. Others have ended up in Elk Grove Village and Des Plaines, among other suburbs.
Neither Dolick nor City Administrator Joe Wade reported hearing much about the criteria used by the state to determine where each group of migrants would be sent.
Though city resources are being affected minimally, a Prospect Heights police officer took a group of about 50 young migrants to a local park Saturday to play. The Prospect Heights Park District donated soccer balls and other equipment for them to use.
“The people are here, so let’s make this work the best we can,” Wade said. “I don’t really see this as a burden on city resources.”
While some of the students are high school age, officials believe the majority are in elementary school. District 21 officials visited the hotel to register the children.
“They were amazing how quickly they enrolled them,” Wade said.
District 21 officials were not immediately available for comment Monday.
Wade said he knows many of the new arrivals are eager to find work as soon as possible, but his understanding is that as asylum-seekers they may be barred from doing so for a matter of months.
While the initial contract for the Venezuelans’ stay at the hotel is for 30 days, they may be there for five to six months, he added.