Migrants Chicago: Grundy County places signs along I-55 to ward off buses as suburbs make own plans

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson recently acknowledged how city's regulations are affecting suburbs

Friday, December 29, 2023
Suburbs try to reign in unauthorized migrant drop-offs with no notice
'The message is don't just drop off individuals into our community. Don't do that to anyone. It's inhumane to do that,' the Matteson village president said of their migrant regulat

ELBURN, Ill. (WLS) -- Grundy County has joined other Chicago suburbs in an effort to deter buses from dropping off migrants from Texas outside of the city.

As the rhetoric surrounding this issue grows more heated, a growing number of suburbs are convening emergency meetings and taking action to keep those migrant buses away.

Buses have been dropping off asylum seekers unannounced in towns like University Park, Aurora and more.

Two more buses are expected Thursday near Des Plaines and Polk streets in Chicago, and more migrants were dropped off there Wednesday night, huddling in the cold.

In south suburban Matteson, the village board passed an ordinance threatening hefty fines for bus drivers unloading migrants without notice in an effort to skirt Chicago's regulations.

"The message is don't just drop off individuals into our community. Don't do that to anyone. It's inhumane to do that," said Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currie.

"If these migrants are being dropped off in the wee hours of the morning, and they're, let's say, they walking or wandering near I-57, that's not safe," said Matteson Vlilage Attorney Felicia Frazier.

Just days before Christmas, Grundy County, which is southwest of Chicago, put up two digital signs along Interstate 55 to deter buses from stopping in the fairly rural area.

"The mayor of Chicago has created a situation that's creating a crisis for us in setting their standards much more difficult for their buses to arrive in Chicago," Grundy County Sheriff Ken Briley said.

The signs have since been taken down but the sheriff's office is on alert for any arrivals.

"Law enforcement officers are to respond to that area, speak with the bus driver, make sure that they know where they're going, and try to encourage them to keep going," Briley said.

Grundy County leaders made a plan over the weekend to encourage buses to move on if they stop there, or, if migrants are abandoned, they will get them to Joliet and put them on trains to transfer them to sanctuary cities.

"We wanted to make sure that we had a plan so that we didn't leave these people stranded out in the cold with no place to go," Briley said.

During a special board meeting Wednesday night, Chicago Ridge voted to crack down on random drop-offs.

The village of Elburn also voted to demand five days advanced notice of a bus arrival and background checks of migrants on board.

Violations will cost the bus company up to $750 per passenger.

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This comes after more than 30 buses have dropped off hundreds of migrants all over the map at all hours of the day with no warning.

The city of Chicago passed an ordinance earlier this month prohibiting buses from arriving and dropping off new arrivals with no prior notice. Mayor Brandon Johnson said over 100 citations have been given.

In a joint press conference with the mayors of New York City and Denver, Johnson acknowledged how Chicago's crackdown on rogue buses has led to suburbs now being inundated with migrants.

"What these mayors are looking for is like much of what you're seeing right now, and they're prepared to pass similar ordinances to not just defend the sanctity of our nation but to make sure that we are responding responsibly," Johnson said.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's busing operation has transported more than 80,000 migrants to Democratic-led cities since last year. His administration recently stepped up the practice with chartered planes.

Alderman Brian Hopkins appeared on CNN and was critical of the White House, saying efforts this week to engage Mexican officials come a year too late.

"I'm a Democrat, but I'll say the Biden administration has absolutely dropped the ball. I'm not going to let him off the hook. They have, they have left us in the ditch with this, and that's unacceptable," he said.

Hopkins and other Chicago alderpersons said they're expecting an update on the crisis in a call with the mayor's office in the morning. A mayor's spokesperson did not respond to our request for comment. In

The Associated Press contributed to this report.