Chicago bus companies withholding migrant drop-off locations to avoid city penalties

The City of Chicago initiated more than 50 lawsuits aiming to hold bus companies responsible for transporting undocumented immigrants to a city already struggling under the strain of winter conditions.

Chicago bus companies withholding migrant drop-off locations to avoid city penalties
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said that bus companies have ceased disclosing the drop-off locations of migrants in order to circumvent potential penalties imposed by the city.

In a move to highlight the severity of the situation at the border, certain Republican governors have been transporting asylum seekers by bus to states and cities under Democratic control, notably those known as sanctuary cities. These Republican leaders assert that this measure is crucial to demonstrate to the nation the challenges faced by border states amidst the increasing influx of migrants.

In reaction, the City of Chicago initiated more than 50 lawsuits aiming to hold bus companies responsible for transporting undocumented immigrants to a city already struggling under the strain of winter conditions.

However, bus companies appear to have responded by continuing to transport migrants, albeit discreetly, avoiding communication and forgoing the use of established drop-off spots.

"Migrants are no longer being dropped off at the city’s landing zone on buses from the southern border, causing people to wander with no direction looking for shelter, according to an aide to Mayor Johnson," The Chicago Tribune reported.

Pacione-Zayas noted that the reduced communication is directly linked to the city's recent penalties for bus operators who breach Chicago's updated bus regulations.

It's reported that buses risk "seizure and impoundment" if they disembark migrant passengers at times or places not designated, or if they do so without the necessary permit. Those who violate these rules could incur fines of up to $3,000, along with additional charges for towing and storage.

"She suspects bus companies are finding other ways to get migrants into the city. As of Saturday, more than 25,900 migrants had arrived in Chicago since August 2022, according to city records," the news outlet reported.

"Obviously, they’re trying every way to work around this," Pacione-Zayas said. "Since we’ve instituted the ordinance and the amendment, we have lost all communication with the border. They’re not sending us any notices."

Pacione-Zayas mentioned that lately, migrants have been discovered in multiple locations across the city, and they have reported receiving train tickets from their bus drivers to travel to Chicago.

"Bus companies are facilitating their transfer into the city," she said. "It sends us scurrying."

"Folks are just kind of being dropped off at different points. They’re wandering to police stations. Or they’re wandering to shelters," she added.

Pacione-Zayas expressed regret over the recent breakdown in communication with those responsible for transporting and sending migrants to Chicago.

"When they come without notice and coordination, it starts to undermine what we’re trying to do," she stated.

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