This Illinois Issues piece examines the migration of immigrants, particularly Latinos, to suburbs that are often ill-prepared for their arrival.
The Round Lake area, where Mano a Mano is located, has seen a dramatic rise in the Latino population since the agency opened its doors in 2000. The Hispanic population in Round Lake Beach, for example, jumped by nearly 70 percent. Latinos now make up nearly half of the village’s residents.
But Duque, Mano a Mano’s executive director, says Latino concerns are still not a top priority for many local leaders. Many wonder why they should “cater” to their new neighbors. When she asks what they are doing to address the needs of immigrants in the area, many simply highlight the work of her own group, a relatively small nonprofit with a budget of roughly $500,000. Forums at chamber of commerce events rarely address immigration, Duque says, and few Latino leaders get involved with local civic activities. “You know, institutions don’t adapt easily to demographic change,” she says. “Of course, there’s a lot of pressure on every institution in the community.”