Wilmington, Braidwood address potential migrant bus drop-offs

GRUNDY COUNTY last week placed “NO MIGRANT BUSES THIS EXIT” in the northbound lanes of Interstate 55 before Dwight and Gardner in response to reports of buses from Texas dropping migrants in other communities surrounding Chicago. The county recently passes a resolution declaring it a “non-sanctuary county for immigration.” Photo provided.


The recent arrival in the region of unscheduled busses carrying undocumented migrants from Texas to Chicago has prompted several local municipalities to pass measures to deal with the issue.

Busses made unscheduled stops in the week before Christmas in Kankakee and Manhattan, apparently looking to drop off those migrants at Metra train stations. Will County officials noted that due to a lack of information from the State of Texas, there is no clear indication of the number of buses that might be arriving in Will County in the near future.

This week, the Wilmington City Council was expected to approve a measure creating rules and regulations around those unscheduled buses, including creating an application process and fines for those buses that break the local rules, which will be enforced by the Wilmington Police Department.

The measure applies to unscheduled intercity buses, defined as “any bus used for the transportation of persons between the City of Wilmington and locations outside of the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area” that does not have authorization of the Chief of Police.

Per the ordinance, operators of any unscheduled intercity bus must make an application for approval to arrive and load/unload passengers at least five days prior to requested arrival.

Those buses, if approved, would only be able to unload passengers between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, and only at locations approved by the Chief of Police. Buses will also be required to carry a passenger list.

Any loading or unloading of passengers outside of this scheduled window will result in a $750 fine per passenger to the operator.

The ordinance also authorized the police chief to pursue criminal charges against any operator, bus drivers, or employees who are charged with the oversight of the passengers when those attempts to drop off those riders endanger the health, safety, or welfare of passengers. Deciding factors on whether to pursue such charges will include weather conditions, whether any of the passengers are children, and time of day.

The city of Braidwood has not passed any measures as of yet similar to Wilmington’s ordinance, but city leaders said last week that they have been in touch with Will County EMA as well as local civic organizations regarding the potential drop off of migrants in or near the city, particularly should busses pull off of I-55 to unload.

City Administrator Tony Altiery said the city is coordinating with local churches should the need to shelter migrants arrive.

“We need to remember, these are people. These are human beings,” Mayor Karen Hart added.

The city of Braidwood is expected to pass a similar ordinance regarding the unscheduled buses during its Jan. 9 regular City Council meeting.

An official landing zone for asylum-seekers is being operated by the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication at 800 S. Des Plaines Avenue, where the City is coordinating with the State of Illinois to provide shelter while working to identify permanent placement.

The increase in bus operators arriving in collar counties followed a City of Chicago ordinance adopted on Dec. 13 that impounds unscheduled buses that arrive at certain times.