Migrant Housing, Labor Issues Focus of Legislative Hearing
The Illinois state senate's Agriculture and Conservation Committee met this week in Springfield to discuss housing and labor issues facing migrant workers.
An example brought up during the hearing was the case of the Cherry Orchard Village apartments in Champaign County. The property's managers were found guilty this year of failing to legally connect and repair the property's sewage systems, and they were ordered to vacate the apartments.
Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde testified at the hearing. Pryde said part of the problem in cases like this stems from companies that underpay migrant workers.
"Migrant workers are coming here from other countries to make a lot of money, take it back for their families to live on. Not the case," Pryde said. "What's happening is that entire families are moving here. They're exploited the entire time they're here, and they usually don't even have enough money to make it back where they came from."
Democratic State Senator Mike Frerichs of Champaign chaired the committee hearing. Frerichs said legislation will be introduced next year to address housing problems facing migrant workers.
"You don't want to paint with a broad brush and say that everyone is responsible for this," Frerichs said. "But I think something needs to happen in order to insure that people aren't living in such filthy conditions with raw sewage and really unlivable living conditions."
Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee also heard testimony from Executive Director of the Illinois Migrant Council Eloy Salazar, Supervisory Attorney of the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project Miguel Keberlein Gutierrez, Policy Analyst for the Latino Policy Forum Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi, and Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois Bob Palmer.