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Chicago, New York, Denver mayors say cities are almost at capacity amid migrant crisis

More migrant buses arrive as mayors of three major cities look for solutions
More migrant buses arrive as mayors of three major cities look for solutions 02:50

CHICAGO (CBS) – The mayors of three of the biggest cities in the country – including Chicago – met Wednesday to discuss the migrant crisis each is facing.

As CBS 2's Marybel González reported, Mayor Brandon Johnson on Wednesday said Chicago is almost at capacity with migrants, even as more asylum seekers were making their way to the suburbs and other towns and villages in the area.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston both said they will take a page from Chicago's book, as the leaders of those cities likewise said they are at a tipping point.

Not only are they running out of housing and resources, but they are still dealing with unannounced buses arriving every single day – and more expected to come.

"All of our cities have reached a point where we are either close to capacity, or nearly out of room," said Mayor Johnson.

All three cities' mayors issued a call to action to the White House.

"Without significant intervention from the federal government, this mission will not be sustained," Johnson said Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Chicago has received more than 26,000 asylum seekers. At least 10 buses of additional migrants were expected to arrive on Wednesday. Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) said at least three buses arrived in the suburbs on Tuesday.

Chicago mayor says city is almost at capacity as more migrants dropped off in suburbs 02:28

Even as the city is nearing capacity, migrants continue to make their way via buses onto Metra trains and into the city. Chicago counted at least 19 buses, that officials know of.

"We've received migrants in the middle of the night with little to no coordination," Johnson said.

Mayor Johnson met virtually with mayors Adams and Johnston – as they addressed what they call a "humanitarian crisis." Thousands of migrants are arriving in all their cities - adding more strain to their resources and housing.

"We, at this point now, have had more migrant arrivals in our city than any city in America per capita," said Mayor Johnston of Denver.

"We cannot continue to do the federal government's job," said Mayor Adams of New York.

With buses continuing to arrive without notice, Adams announced has announced an executive order for New York City – following the city of Chicago's lead. Earlier this month, the City Council in Chicago began cracking down on buses that fail to notify the city of where and when they will drop people off – with fines and impoundment of the buses as penalties.

"Based on observations of what we saw in Chicago, we are duplicating some of the best practices we've seen in other municipalities," Adams said. "These chartered buses arrive only between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday through Friday, and to only drop off passengers at one spot unless directed otherwise."

Those who violate the order in New York City will face fines, lawsuits, or impoundment of the buses.

Johnston said Denver also has a similar order in place.

"To be clear, this is not stopping people from coming, but about ensuring the safety of migrants - and making sure they can arrive in a coordinated and orderly way," said Mayor Adams.

The three mayors are calling for more federal founding, for expedited work permits to get the migrants out of shelters more quickly, and more coordination at the southern border.

Back in Chicago, despite the ordinance cracking down, the city is still seeing rogue buses.

CBS 2 called around and asked local suburban communities how many asylum seekers they've received.

Buses have stopped as far as Kankakee, about 50 miles south of Chicago. Other communities like Fox River Grove, Elmhurst, Aurora, Naperville, Lockport, and University Park also reported receiving buses. By CBS 2's tally, there have been at least 28 buses that have dropped migrants off in suburban communities.

As CBS 2's Sabrina Franza reported, Mayor Johnson on Wednesday also met with leaders in other Illinois suburbs and towns to connect with those who are receiving migrants they were not expecting. He said buses were "literally dropping families off in the middle of nowhere."

"I don't think anyone was prepared for the enormity," said Elizabeth Scott, the village manager of south suburban University Park.

Scott reported that at least 15 buses have stopped in her village since Friday. About 130 families decided to stay in University Park.

"We're trying to absorb as many as we can, however being a small community, we just don't have all the resources that we need," she said.

One bus actually dropped people off in the middle of a cornfield.

"They're walking down the street," Scott said. "Toddlers with no coats."

Even though the city anticipated about 10 buses arriving on Wednesday, no one know where they'll stop.

"By the time we get word, it's really us at that point trying to be reactive instead of proactive," Scott said.

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