Oak Lawn Passes Measure Restricting Unscheduled Migrant Bus Drop-Offs

OAK LAWN, IL — The Village of Oak Lawn joined a growing list of Chicago suburbs to take measures to address the migrant crisis during Tuesday’s board meeting. Village trustees unanimously passed an amendment 6-0 to an ordinance prohibiting chartered transportation from making unscheduled stops and letting ten or more passengers off who will not reboard.

In December, the village board amended Oak Lawn’s hotel/motel occupancy code pertaining to extended stays after 30 days.

All of the residents who made public comments, including several candidates running for the Illinois state legislature, were in favor of the migrant-bus regulating ordinance. Village officials said there have been no attempts by buses making unscheduled stops in Oak Lawn to drop off asylum seekers.

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“I suggest we get legislators to make Illinois no longer a sanctuary state,” said David Dewar, who is running for 35th District state representative in the upcoming Democratic primary. “We also need legislators who will stop making illegals police officers. It’s like a cancer that is metastasizing and it’s getting worse.”

Oak Lawn-resident Dave Fields said he was at the meeting to “protest these buses coming with people that are not legally in America. We don’t know who they are, if they have diseases and who knows what else.”

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Fields said it was cruel to leave people outside who arrive in the Midwest during winter wearing summer clothing and sandals.

“We can’t treat people like that. It’s inhumane,” Fields added. “The best place for them is to go back to where they came from.”

The measures approved by village trustees establish common-carrier regulations requiring a village license to operate a bus within the village to prohibit unscheduled bus stops and passenger drop-offs.

The measures also ensure that the village has prior notice of the intent of a carrier to make a stop within Oak Lawn boundaries and drop off passengers, enabling the village to adequately address potential public health and safety issues. In the past year, more than 30,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago. The city said 14,000 of them are staying in 27 shelters. Mayor Terry Vorderer said the village cannot afford to pay the cost of sheltering and caring for migrants.

“This is beyond the Village of Oak Lawn’s responsibility. It’s a federal issue that stops at the borders of Oak Lawn,” Mayor Terry Vorderer said. “We are doing what we can as a municipality to accommodate the safety of the citizens. We are a welcoming community and we are a diverse community, but we don’t have the resources to deal with buses that drop off many people that are seeking a better life … [The village] cannot have a system in place for that, and the ordinances tonight, should it pass, will deal with that.”

Exempt from the ordinance are courtesy shuttles transporting passengers to a business or hotel as part of the business’s regular service; school buses carrying students on field trips to Oak Lawn venues, such as the children’s museum; the Worth Township senior shuttle; and mass transit buses, such as Pace.

Tr. Paul Mallo (Dist. 3) said the village attorneys were “very thorough” in crafting the amendment to the village’s existing chartered transporation ordinance.

“The federal government needs to get its act together,” Mallo said prior to the board meeting. “This is outrageous and an insult to any immigrant who came here the right way, and waited sometimes years to get citizenship.”

The amended ordinance requires privately-chartered buses to give 14 days’ advance notice prior to the date of dropping passengers off, including the full names of all passengers, copies of passengers’ IDs, mobile and LAN line phone numbers, email addresses and other contact information. Bus owners, operators and drivers who fail to file notice with the Village of Oak Lawn will be fined $750 per each bus passenger.

“It’s a public safety crisis,” Tr. Ralph Soch (Dist. 6) told Patch. “Dropping off bus loads of undocumented migrants in the middle of January is dangerous for Oak Lawn residents and to the migrants themselves.”

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