Suburban Mosaic: DuPage County women join forces to help asylum-seekers

Three groups of DuPage County women have banded together to provide aid to dozens of asylum-seekers and new immigrants arriving daily in Chicago.

“Two areas we are concentrating on is attempting to find affordable housing and mentors,” said Patricia Motto, 73, of Elmhurst, a retired civil rights lawyer and member of the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants board of directors.

The group has been working with Half the Sky of Elmhurst and 6,000 Moms of Wheaton to help stock a storage unit across from Chicago's Greyhound bus station. Its clients are legal asylum-seekers who have been processed at the border and allowed into the United States.

Volunteers hand out diapers, children's clothes, masks, phones, food, cash and provide other help to immigrant families in need.

“We provide whatever basic needs they have and put them on the bus to wherever they are going,” Motto said. “Most of the people that are coming in are going to family members or other social support groups across the country.”

But many of them end up in the suburbs. Recently, there's been an influx of asylum-seekers, from South American countries, Haiti, Africa and other nations, coming through the U.S.-Mexican border. There's also a shortage of short-term housing available to them, Motto said.

“There is an urgent need now,” she said. “Many of these people are climate change refugees. We anticipate there will be more of an increase.”

Motto's group connects new arrivals with temporary housing and legal assistance.

“We have about 300 volunteers,” Motto said. “We are trying to gather support from suburban organizations.”

Floyd anniversary:

Elgin Community College is hosting a discussion about race relations on the anniversary of George Floyd's death.

Community members are invited to join the conversation, “One Year Later: What Has Changed? What Work Remains?,” at 2 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom at It's part of the ECC Multicultural and Global Initiatives Committee's “Black Lives Matter” series.

“On the anniversary of George Floyd's murder, we wanted to convene and listen to experts take a deep dive into changes made and those being considered in criminal justice and police reform,” said Clark Hallpike, ECC professor of business and committee co-chair. “Our first Black Lives Matter discussion event last June also dealt with policing, so this panel brings us full circle to see what progress has been made, and what more must be done.”

The panel will be moderated by Attorney Janelle Dixon, principal at Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit and co-chair of the Kane County Bar Association Diversity Committee.

Guest speakers include Judge Reginald Campbell and Judge Julio Valdez of the 16th Circuit Court; attorney Peter Hanna, special adviser for the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union; Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Jayme Taylor, president of the Illinois Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers; Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley; ECC Police Deputy Chief Craig Campbell; and ECC student Lukas Munoz, managing editor of the ECC Observer.

Attendance is limited to 300 participants. The session will be recorded and available on ECC's Facebook Page.

Black homicides:

Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in homicides involving victims who are Black, and 90% of those cases were gun-related crimes, according to a national study released by the Violence Policy Center.

In 2018, Black men, women, boys and girls made up 14% of the nation's population but accounted for 50% of all homicide victims, center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said.

The center supports community advocates and organizations working to stop gun violence through education. It is working with Gun Violence Prevention PAC Illinois to urge state legislators to adopt the proposed Block Illegal Ownership And Fix The FOID legislation.

“Gun violence is an equity issue, and we must act now to get communities across our state moving in the right direction,” said Kathleen Sances, G-PAC president.

LGBTQ-inclusive law:

Legislation adopted by both houses of the Illinois state legislature would require Illinois-based corporations to annually report the self-identified gender and sexual orientation of members of their boards of directors.

State law already requires corporations to report the race, ethnicity and gender of corporate board members.

The latest measure is modeled on a 2017 law requiring LGBTQ inclusion in the data reported out by the governor's office for appointments to state boards and commissions.

“Due to a history of stigmatization and discrimination and being forced to hide our authentic selves in workplaces and in roles of public service, LGBTQ people have been denied space at tables of power,” said Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “This robs us of the opportunity to lend our strengths and talents to businesses. We also know how diverse leadership can foster workplace cultures of inclusion and advance affirming policies for workers throughout an organization or business.”

Exploring Hinduism:

Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove will host a program on understanding Hinduism on Aug. 19.

“Conversation not Conversion: An Exploration and Understanding of Hinduism” will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the student center, room 106, of the college campus off Route 47 at Waubonsee Drive.

Ranganathan Hemmige, Aurora Hindu temple religious educator, will discuss Hindu beliefs and practices, similarities and differences in cultural and faith traditions and becoming a Hindu ally when encountering discrimination.

Admission is $5. Mail registration opens Tuesday, May 25, with a postmark deadline of July 15. To register or for more information, call (630) 466-2593.

Seating is limited. Advance registration is required.

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