Oak Lawn bans unscheduled migrant bus drop-offs as Burr Ridge takes different approach

Migrant arrivals get taste of true winter weather, as some try to help

Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Oak Lawn bans unscheduled migrant bus drop-offs
As migrant buses come to the Chicago area, Oak Lawn banned unscheduled drop-offs on Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Oak Lawn Mayor Terry Vorderer said the village is a welcoming community but, like ABC7 has heard from other suburban leaders, he said it doesn't have the resources to support new migrant arrivals.

The Village of Oak Lawn joined a growing list of suburbs approving a measure to stop unscheduled migrant bus and passenger drop-offs on Tuesday.

The board's approval was met with applause from residents attending Tuesday night's village meeting. The new ordinance will require a special permit to operate buses and ban unscheduled drop-offs in Oak Lawn.

"We are a welcoming, diverse community. We cannot and we do not have the resources to handle this issue," Vorderer said.

So far, Vorderer said, they haven't had any migrant drop-offs, but Tuesday night's vote was a preventative measure.

"To get ahead of it, we thought this might be the best way not only to protect the migrants in the winter, but our residents, too," Vorderer said.

RELATED: Mayor Brandon Johnson, Illinois' congressional delegation discuss migrant crisis in virtual meeting

In Burr Ridge, Mayor Gary Grasso is taking a different approach.

"We are public servants and we do want to serve and we want to do what's right for everybody, including people that are new to our various communities," Grasso said.

In a village meeting held Monday night, leaders there decided not to consider new regulations on migrant bus drop-offs.

Grasso, who is part of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, said sharing information between communities is one way to get closer to solving this crisis.

"We will solve this problem as long as we work together, no matter what our political differences are. We need to we need to work together on this issue," Grasso said.

Both mayors agree that safety is the top priority for their communities as well as the new migrants, and given the recent weather conditions, dropping migrants off without proper resources is equally unsafe.

With the snow and slush and a forecast for bitter cold temperatures, there's a new focus on migrants unaccustomed to this kind of weather. Some are braving the elements, and others are trying to help.

Organizations are trying to help Chicago migrants, as winter weather bears down on the area.

Dressed in jean shorts and tube socks, one new arrival was shivering as he and others got a good taste of a Chicago winter on Tuesday.

There were about 280 migrants at Chicago's landing zone, packed into warming buses and waiting for shelter as the cold rain poured down.

"Of course it's not ideal; it wasn't meant to be a permanent solution. The city is struggling to find available beds," said Andre Gordillo with New Life Centers.

Gordillo's organization is assisting the city in welcoming the new arrivals. They all are given a coat, warm clothing and a blanket, but nothing more.

"For now, they wait for beds to open up. We can't be providing three jackets and four blankets. Then storage becomes an issue," Gordillo said.

And there is no spare room on the buses.

Jose Angel Farias has been living on one for three days. He is worried about the health of his 2-year-old daughter. Farias said there are some people on the buses with fevers.

"We do not have the means for a medical emergency; the buses are super crowded. There is not room for one more person," Farias said.

He said sleeping at night on the bus is almost impossible.

Families, specifically single women and children, are the first to be placed in shelters.

Single men are the last. Some have been living at the landing zone for several days.

"Although the bus is uncomfortable, at least it gives you a little warmth," 21-year-old Andres Guisao said.

The landing zone may get some relief by week's end. The long-awaited state shelter at a former Little Village CVS is scheduled to open soon.

The new shelter will come just in time for migrants to experience the reality of a Chicago winter in January. Single digits are expected early next week.