Trustees act to stem migrant buses

Following the arrival of 11 busloads of migrants in 11 days in downtown Hinsdale, the village has joined the growing number of suburban communities enacting restrictions on bus companies to prevent the unannounced drop-offs.

At a special village board meeting Tuesday, trustees passed an ordinance requiring bus companies to file an application with Hinsdale Police Chief Brian King at least five days before a proposed disembarking date. Failure to do so carries a fine of $750 per passenger and the possible impounding of the bus. The chief will inform the applicant if an application is approved within four days of filing.

“These drop-offs started because Chicago, which is a sanctuary city, passed an ordinance restricting the flow of buses of migrants directly to the city from Texas,” Village President Tom Cauley said in his remarks introducing the measure, which requires the village be provided with a detailed plan on how migrants will be housed and fed after they are dropped off.

The Hinsdalean was witness to the first drop-off Dec. 22 at First Street and Garfield Avenue. The migrants walked to the Hinsdale train station to travel to Chicago. Subsequent drop-offs, which village officials said consist of 45 people on average, have occurred right outside the station.

Cauley reported that one of the bus drivers informed the village that, in the absence of restrictions, the buses would keep coming at least through March. So far the activity has taken place without incident, officials said, but assuming that will continue to be the case would be irresponsible.

“As the weather turns dangerously cold, migrant drop-offs unannounced in Hinsdale could endanger lives,” Cauley said. “If migrants are dropped off after the last train to Chicago, migrants could be stranded in Hinsdale all night before they get transported to Chicago. Hinsdale does not have the resources to handle such situations, even in good weather.”

Clarendon Hills passed a similar ordinance last week, and more than a dozen suburban municipalities have enacted restrictions in response to the influx, according to various news outlets. Cauley said towns with ordinances have seen migrant drop-offs cease.

Almost 3,000 asylum seekers on 72 buses have arrived at train stations in DuPage County since Dec. 14, according to the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Hinsdale and Wheaton were the destinations receiving the highest number of buses.

Hinsdale resident Nick Skokna, one of a number of community members in attendance, said while he has helped resettle migrants in Oak Park through a charitable organization, the town is not positioned to address the sheer number being relocated.

“The people of Hinsdale care, and we really are trying to help them. But you can’t just have this open-door policy down (at) the border,” Skokna said.

Cauley said the ordinance is not a ban on buses, but rather an attempt to ensure safety for all involved.

“Buses will be permitted to come to Hinsdale if they comply with the new ordinance,” he said, “It would give us the opportunity to have adequate police staffing and to manage it.”

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean