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Chicago suburb restricts buses from dropping off migrants without notice

Leaders of some Chicago suburbs frustrated with busloads of migrants being dropped off
Leaders of some Chicago suburbs frustrated with busloads of migrants being dropped off 02:48

AURORA, Ill. (CBS) -- The Aurora City Council approved an ordinance on Friday aimed at preventing buses from dropping off migrants without any notice.

It came as the western suburb received its sixth bus of migrants in the past two days. Other suburbs have reported receiving buses with migrants.

As CBS 2's Asal Rezaei reported, another bus dropped off about 30 migrants at a Metra train station in Lockport without any notice yesterday. The migrants were later taken to Chicago.

The recent move of taking migrants to suburban communities comes shortly after Chicago began cracking down on unauthorized buses. Recently, the city issued 96 citations and impounded at least one bus.

Earlier this month, the Chicago City Council approved tougher penalties, including fines of up to $3,000 if buses failed to notify the city within a certain time, including buses dropping off migrants at undesignated locations.

Chicago, suburbs crack down on migrant buses arriving without notice 01:45

In suburbs like Aurora, rules around buses were also at the top of people's minds. City leaders there said this week that unscheduled buses carrying migrants arrived from Texas.

In a special meeting on Friday, the Aurora City Council approved an ordinance that would require transportation companies to notify the community services department at least five days before a bus shows up. They would also have to fill out a form outlining a detailed plan for how the migrants would be taken care of, how many are arriving, and other details. 

Not complying could lead to fines of up to $1,000 per person on the bus, with additional fees on top of that. The bus could also be impounded, similar to the ordinance already in place in Chicago.

They said the safety of passengers, refugees, and migrants is a top priority. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said migrants arriving in his city said Chicago was their final destination.

"Now I'd hope Chicago would make good on their promises to take care of the migrants," Irvin said. "But again, that can't be a responsibility, that Chicago made this promise, that can't be a responsibility put on the city of Aurora. This is not a local issue. This is a federal issue and our federal government, along with our governors, should be working to address these issues."

Irvin added that Aurora was not in a position to care for migrants.

CBS 2's Sabrina Franza reported on one bus with about 40 asylum seekers that arrived in Aurora on Friday. They included families with small children who were mostly clothed in sweatpants and pajamas, not in adequate winter clothes. They walked off the bus and immediately boarded a Metra train straight to Union Station.

Chicago suburbs react as several migrants dropped off without authorization 02:51

While Aurora's bus ordinance went into effect upon passage on Friday, it wasn't clear if the most recent bus would be fined.

Also on Thursday, the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office reported that a bus carrying between 30 and 40 Venezuelan migrants had arrived in the county south of Chicago. The bus dropped off the migrants in a gas station parking lot around 4:30 a.m. in the 3400 south block of Route 45/52.

Police spoke to several individuals who had been dropped off an learned they had arrived from El Paso, Texas, and that they were erroneously told they were in Chicago. They were left without money, food, or adequate clothing, police said.

Police arranged transportation for the migrants to Midway Airport. Kankakee Sherriff Mike Downey said his office is trying to identify the individuals responsible for "abandoning" the migrants at the gas station.

"They left them there to start walking on the roadway, which was more dangerous than anything," Downey said. "You know, Chicago has said from the beginning that they welcome everybody - only when it's convenient, apparently."

Other communities were affected as well. Elburn received 38 migrants, who then took a Metra train to Chicago.

Tinley Park and University Park also plan to impose fines if bus operators don't register in advance. The Village of Elburn plans to host a special meeting to decide what to do about rogue buses, possibly next week.

Some inner-ring suburbs have also implemented ordinances restricting buses.

Oak Park is known for welcoming and offering hospitality to migrants. Freddy Garcia, 20, will be far away from his home in Venezuela this Christmas, but he has started to build community in his adopted home of Oak Park – and he organized a holiday party for his fellow asylum seekers Friday night.

But Oak Park has a similar ordinance in place as in Chicago and now Aurora – as busloads of migrants continue to roll in.

During a Zoom meeting with mayors of surrounding cities and towns late Friday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson urged other municipalities to create their own bus ordinance and try to slow the flow of migrants to the area.

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