'Rogue' buses are trying to dump migrants in Cicero and leave to avoid Chicago fines

Craig Wall Image
Saturday, December 9, 2023
'Rogue' buses are trying to dump migrants in Cicero and leave
So-called rogue buses bringing migrants to Chicago but trying to avoid fines have instead detoured to the Cicero Metra, where they've tried to dump migrants and leave.

CICERO, Ill. (WLS) -- Chicago has put bus companies bringing migrants to the city on notice that if they don't comply with the rules for where and when to drop off new arrivals, the penalty will be more than just a fine. Mayor Brandon Johnson is proposing impounding buses that break the rules.

So-called rogue buses trying to avoid fines have instead detoured to the Cicero Metra station where on two occasions, on November 29 and in mid-November, they have tried to just dump the migrants and leave.

"It's an unfortunate game they are playing cat and mouse with human lives and children lives," said Eddie Fuentes, director of community care for New Life Centers.

Fuentes, who oversees the landing zone operations, was called in both incidents and rushed to Cicero to help. Cicero police responded and confronted the driver with a warning.

"If they decided to drop the new arrivals at that site, it was gonna be a $30,000 ticket and they'll tow their bus. So they got everybody back on the bus, Cicero PD escorted the bus to the dedicated landing zone here in Chicago," Fuentes said.

Chicago has already fined several buses $5,000 for violating migrant drop off regulations, but the city is now taking steps to get a lot tougher.

"The ordinance we're considering today would allow those buses if they're not in compliance, to be impounded by the city," said 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata, who is also the chair of the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Commiteee.

The ordinance passed out of committee Friday without any dissent. La Spata said it's a tough penalty, but necessary.

"But when folks have proven themselves to just be so flagrant in their disregard. I think that's where impoundment is a reasonable tool of enforcement," he said. "The underlying goal is not punishment for bus companies, but care for migrants."

"It's really to be able to receive the new arrivals with compassion, Fuentes said.

Next week the full city council is expected to vote on the bus impounding ordinance, with the hope it will bring all bus companies into compliance and not lead to more attempts to drop migrants at other remote locations where there is no one waiting to welcome and assist them.