Chicago migrant crisis: Texas bus companies may be making millions transporting new arrivals

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Thursday, January 11, 2024
Chicago migrant crisis: Texas bus companies may be making millions
As migrant buses rolled into Chicago, Chuck Goudie and the I-Team have documented millions of dollars that have rolled into the bus companies.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago officials try to crack down on unscheduled buses bringing thousands of migrants from Texas to Illinois, the bus companies are making millions, according to one estimate.

New York City wants to hold bus companies accountable in a lawsuit filed against 17 firms claiming when migrant buses began rolling into sanctuary cities the money began rolling into those Texas bus companies.

Those lawsuit calculations suggest that private charter bus companies are making tens of millions of dollars hauling migrants from the border.

Records obtained by the the ABC7 I-Team reveal, so far, 95 citations have been filed in Cook County Court against 30 bus companies for allegedly violating a new city law with a minimum of almost $200,000 dollars in fines.

Officials have yet to collect any fines under a newly passed city ordinance regulating the buses, but the companies cited all have court dates throughout January.

Since August of 2022, 636 buses have arrived in Chicago carrying migrants from the southern border.

READ MORE | Chicago migrants sent from Texas dominated 2023's news as city scrambled to help them

The city has absorbed more than 30,000 migrants, stretching Chicago resources and prompting passage of a new city council ordinance last month-- imposing fines on bus companies that don't register and report migrant transit operations.

Two buses with different owners were impounded by Chicago officials and brought to a lot on the west side and held until release fees were paid.

According to the city's law department, one company paid $3,450 to retrieve it's bus and another shelled out $3,750 for its release.

The New York City lawsuit gives details as to how much money bus firms appear to have been making from this new-found business. Those figures likely to carry over to the Chicago drop-offs.

The bus companies have been paid an estimated $1,650 per migrant traveler; reimbursement reportedly from the Texas legislature and private donations.

That would mean bus companies bringing migrants to Chicago and New York have received more than $100 million.

And that's just the the bus fare.

The state of Texas has flown another several hundred migrants to the Chicago area on private charters.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claims migrants come north voluntarily and he said New York City's lawsuit is interfering with the right to travel.

No lawsuit has been filed by Illinois but a spokesperson with the governor said they are working with the Attorney General's office to "examine all possible recourse to this crisis."