Watch CBS News

More Chicago suburbs approve efforts to limit unscheduled migrant drop-offs

Chicago suburb of Hinsdale passes ordinance restricting migrant buses
Chicago suburb of Hinsdale passes ordinance restricting migrant buses 02:16

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (CBS) -- More and more communities are taking action to try to stop buses carrying migrants from Texas from making unscheduled stops in their towns.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, the City of Woodstock in McHenry County is among those communities – and voted in favor of an ordinance restricting such buses Tuesday night. The Woodstock City Council voted unanimously, 6-0, in favor of the ordinance.

Joliet, Wilmington, Buffalo Grove, North Chicago, and Hinsdale have also all been considering similar measures, and also all hosted meetings Tuesday evening. Joliet, Wilmington, and Hinsdale had passed their proposed ordinances by 8:30 p.m.

The Hinsdale and Joliet ordinances restricting bus drop-offs also passed unanimously. The ordinance for Wilmington also passed.

Information on the Buffalo Grove and North Chicago ordinances was not immediately available.

In Woodstock, a bus dropped off nearly 40 people at the Metra station this past Saturday – with zero notice. Molina is told the Woodstock community stepped up - providing the asylum seekers with shelter, clothing, and food - while coordinating with the City of Chicago before transporting the group to the city.

On Monday, groups of migrants likewise got off buses at a Metra station in Hinsdale, and then boarded trains to Union Station in downtown Chicago. Those migrants are now waiting for placement in shelters at the city's designated landing zone about half a mile away.

Roughly 450 asylum seekers in all have been dropped off at the Metra station in downtown Hinsdale – and then put onto Metra trains headed for downtown Chicago.

Migrants dropped off in Hinsdale, brought to Chicago 01:45

Lately, dozens of bus companies from Texas have been avoiding Chicago's crackdown on so-called "rogue" buses by dropping off migrants in the suburbs.

Last month, the Chicago City Council approved tougher penalties for bus companies that drop off migrants without notice, or outside the city's designated landing zone. The city has said it has issued 95 citations and impounded two buses for violating the rules.

Fines of up to $3,000 may be involved if bus companies fail to notify the city of an arrival within a certain time – including buses dropping off migrants at undesignated locations.

Chicago city leaders also have repeated the call for the federal government to speed up work permits for asylum seekers to help them get jobs and move out of shelters.

"It is essential and critical that we do that by investing in people," said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th). "This is really an urgent call for federal government to take leadership on the matter."

Meantime, since buses started avoiding the crackdown by bringing migrants to random suburbs, and putting them on Metra trains to Chicago, the City of Aurora and several suburbs have begun approving ordinances to penalize those rogue bus companies.

In Woodstock, Mayor Michael Turner said the restrictions on rogue buses in Chicago have been successful, and his community needs something similar.

"The bus ordinance has been effective in Chicago in preventing and cutting and discouraging those drop-offs - unexpected middle-of-the-night or middle-of-the-day drop-offs," said Mayor Turner. "For the City of Woodstock, I mean, we view it in the same way. I don't that think the community is well-served. It puts us in a difficult position to try to manage things if we have buses coming in here just dropping off."

Turner said the Woodstock ordinance is modeled after those of both Chicago and Aurora.

"The language is such that it establishes a rule that bus companies, that are not scheduled or part of other sets of criteria cannot just pull up and drop people off within the city," he said.

Turner also emphasized that Woodstock is not equipped to help migrants in the way Chicago is.

"There are social service elements in the city of Chicago that we simply don't have here. That's the reality," he said. "We may want it to be different, but we don't have the staff, the expertise or the monetary resources or the relationship with the federal government in order to get the resources to help manage this. The city of Chicago does have those."

Woodstock, other Chicago suburbs to hold meetings on migrant crisis 02:12

Woodstock's ordinance will require transportation companies to fill out an application with the city before dropping off large groups of people. Companies must also state who would be responsible for taking care of the group.

Violators will face a $10,000 fine, plus a $750 fine for each passenger.

Dozens of residents showed up for the special meeting in Woodstock to discuss the ordinance Tuesday evening before it was approved – with many vocalizing support for migrants, but also a need to go beyond the ordinance to help the migrants coming to the area.

"I would really like to see us come together as a community, and make a plan for if and when these people do come again – maybe form a rapid response team, so we can be a respite for people who are on a horrifically challenging journey," said Eva Baker of Woodstock.

"We were only ready enough for one bus – 37 people. I mean, another bus showed up, we would have been scrambling," said Rob Mutert of Woodstock, "but the response has been outstanding."

Suburban communities discuss plans for crackdown on rogue migrant buses 02:21

Meanwhile in Hinsdale, residents are frustrated – with some laying the blame at the feet of Chicago and Mayor Brandon Johnson.

"People in Hinsdale really want to help," said Hinsdale resident Nick Skokna, "but with this open-door policy, it's just become chaos."

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, some, including the Hinsdale village president, complained that Chicago has placed its own restrictions on migrant buses despite being a sanctuary city.

"These drop-offs started because Chicago, which is a sanctuary city, passed an ordinance restricting the flow of buses of migrants directly to the city from Texas," Hinsdale Village President Tom Cauley said at a Tuesday night meeting.

"I think it's unacceptable that the mayor can't accept the fact that he has a sanctuary city, and has to impose all the problems on the suburbs," said Hinsdale resident Liz McCloy.

Under the Hinsdale ordinance, bus operators who stop unannounced in Hinsdale will be fined up to $750 per passenger, and will rusk their bus being impounded if they fail to notify the Hinsdale Police Department five days before arriving.

"Unless we do something, these busses will keep coming," said Village President Cauley.

"I think overall, it's maybe what they had to do," said Skokna. "It's a shame. I don't see what else you can do if you're going to have tons of buses coming into the town."

The ordinance in Hinsdale goes into effect immediately.

The background language for the now-approved ordinance in Woodstock is as follows:

As part of the recent surge in individuals crossing over from Mexico, numerous southern states have begun to bus some of them to northern cities such as New York and Chicago. In order to limit and manage the number of individuals being bused to Chicago, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance limiting when and where these buses could drop off these individuals. Fines for companies that violated this new ordinance included the seizure of the vehicle being used.

In order to work around this new ordinance, these bus companies have begun to drop off these individuals in numerous suburbs around Chicago, usually at a Metra station, with the expectation that they will take the train into the City of Chicago. In numerous circumstances, these bus companies are dropping these individuals off after the last train of the night has left and thus these individuals, including children, are left in a dangerous and life-threatening situation of surviving in potential subfreezing weather.

In order to combat this potentially dangerous situation in the City of Woodstock, an ordinance has been drafted that prohibits the transportation of large groups of people, in certain circumstances, unless an application has been approved. As part of the approval process, the applicant must state individuals who will be responsible for the care of the people being dropped off, along with giving the City time to verify an applicant's ability to care for them.

The fines for violating this new ordinance include a $10,000 fine, plus $750 for each passenger. Also, the City is authorized to impound the vehicle pending the completion of a hearing.

Buffalo Grove's proposed ordinance would require bus companies to provide five days' notice before making any drop-offs, and would require a detailed plan for how the people being dropped off would be cared for, housed, and fed. Violations would be subject to fines of $300 to $1,000, and the city would be allowed to seize and impound buses that break the rules.

The Village of Buffalo Grove released this statement:

"While we are unaware of any drop-offs in Buffalo Grove this year, the impetus of bringing forth an ordinance for consideration is the concern for the health and safety of potential passengers arriving. The bus drop-offs that have been taking place in other suburbs have put those passengers' safety at risk, and that risk is further amplified as we enter the coldest months of the year. An ordinance would not put any burden on passengers but rather require bus operators and owners to plan for humane care and proper coordination.

"Unlike many other communities, BG's train stations have very limited service to Chicago, only running during early daytime hours on weekdays. Passengers dropped off outside of scheduled service hours would be unable to find transportation to the designated landing zone and there is limited shelter from inclement weather available on-site. Further, an unscheduled drop-off could occur without the Village's knowledge, leaving passengers exposed to the elements and without food or water. The ordinance for consideration is a move to ensure that if any Chicago-bound bus passengers come to BG that they are cared for humanely, with a plan for transportation and access to basic needs and resources."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.