Buffalo Grove and Woodstock both approved ordinances Tuesday evening that will allow the towns to impound buses and fine operators if they drop off migrants without approval.
The Buffalo Grove Village Board unanimously voted to pass an ordinance amending a chapter of the town’s municipal code.
It allows the police chief to regulate unscheduled bus stops by implementing an application requirement.
Operators of buses are now required to provide a minimum of five days’ notice about a migrant drop-off.
The application requires that the operator of the bus provide a detailed plan identifying how the individuals being dropped off will be cared for, housed and fed — either temporarily or permanently.
A violation of the ordinance could result in fines of $300-$1,000 per occurrence and allow for the impoundment of the bus.
In a memorandum from Buffalo Grove Chief of Police Brian Budds and Village Manager Dane Bragg to the board, the officials explained how the City of Chicago recently implemented an ordinance curbing unscheduled bus drop-offs of migrants from Texas.
Since Chicago’s ordinance went into effect, buses are now being diverted from the city to the suburbs.
Waukegan, Highland Park and Libertyville recently received unscheduled bus drop-offs at their Metra train stations.
“The Village has significant concerns for the health and safety of its residents and potential passengers who could be dropped off unannounced at its facilities. Passengers dropped off outside of Metra 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,” the memo said.
“Further, an unscheduled drop-off could occur without the Village’s knowledge, leaving passengers exposed to the elements and without food or water,” the memo added.
Buffalo Grove Village President Eric Smith said the decision to adopt the ordinance was “rooted in care.”
“Our top priority is and always will be public safety. There is no bias, there is no discrimination,” Smith said during the board meeting before the ordinance passed.
A longtime resident of Buffalo Grove asked the board where the migrants go for unscheduled bus drops.
Bragg said it depends on where the arrivals occur. The buses typically drop off at Metra stations where the migrants can continue their journey to Chicago.
Bragg said the village has begun working with a local shelter to make a plan in case migrants do not leave the village after being dropped off.
Several towns in the Chicago area have already passed measures similar to Buffalo Grove.
In Woodstock, the city council also unanimously voted to pass a migrant bus drop-off ordinance Tuesday evening.
The Woodstock ordinance carries heavier fines than the Buffalo Grove ordinance, allowing the city to issue violators fines of $10,000 plus $750 per passenger, in addition to impounding buses pending a hearing.
Woodstock Mayor Michael Turner said a bus conducted a drop-off of migrants at the Woodstock Metra station on Saturday.
Turner said the city had pre-planned for the situation and enacted the plan when officials became aware of the migrants’ arrival.
Bottled water was distributed and arrangements were made for them to continue their travel via train.
“For the City of Woodstock, we determined that our approach would be to encourage and direct these migrants to accept transportation into the City of Chicago via train or bus so that they can make use of the City of Chicago / State of Illinois / Federal government resources available to provide assistance to them,” Turner said.
“The City of Woodstock does not have the staff, monetary resources, or expertise to manage the short and long-term needs of migrants dropped off buses from out of State,” the mayor added.
36 migrants boarded a Metra train bound for Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago, according to Metra police. It is unclear if more than 36 migrants were dropped off by bus.
Rob Mutert, the Managing Director of the non-profit organization Warp Corps, said he went to the train station and dropped off cold-weather clothing for the migrants, who were mostly from Venezuela.
“Human 1st, migrants 2nd. The only two words most of them knew was thank you. I just heard it 100 times,” Mutert said, adding that many of the migrants consisted of children.