(The Center Square) – The city of Chicago faces a federal lawsuit from a Texas bus company that claims the city’s new ordinance governing how migrant arrivals can be dropped off in the city is unconstitutional.
In insisting that the policy put in place by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson earlier this month discriminates against them, the Wynne Bus Company also argues that measure “punishes” transportation companies that do business with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott by interfering with interstate commerce.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, said much of the focus is misplaced in the city’s simmering dispute with Texas.
“It’s just amazing to me that they’re looking to control a bus company rather than our border,” Ugaste, an attorney by trade, told The Center Square. “I would think that there would be more calls coming from the city for the president of the United States to do something about taking care of our border rather than where a bus is transporting people within the United States.”
Since August 2022, Abbott has sent about 35,000 migrants to Illinois based on its status as a sanctuary state. With the city now seeking to regain control over how and where arriving buses can make drop offs, violators now face fines of as much as $3,000 and the prospect of having their vehicles impounded.
The new ordinance includes provisions mandating that bus companies provide advance notice about arrivals and receive approval from the city before dropping off arrivals at the city’s designated landing zone. Since the policy went into effect roughly a month ago, the city has filed at least 95 lawsuits against what it calls “rogue bus” companies and impounded at least two buses at a cost of more than $3,400 to the companies involved.
“Everyone has a right to exercise certain limitations, I just don’t know how far that goes,” Ugaste added. “The penalty though of high fines and seizing property seems to be a bit much in comparison to bringing people and dropping them off in allotted time zones and restricted areas.
Ugaste noted that other municipalities are looking at measures similar to Chicago’s.
“I don’t know if Chicago and other communities have overstepped their boundaries or if they’re perfectly within their rights,” he said.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state may have to bring some uniformity to the way buses can be regulated on a local level.
“It certainly seems like if one town can do it and another town can’t, we ought to have some uniformity,” Pritzker said at an unrelated event near Springfield.
In the end, Ugaste argues the solution lies in gaining control of the border, adding he has now signed on in support of a bill filed in Springfield that would see the state repeal its sanctuary state status.
“Maybe you send a different message if you remove that designation,” he added. “Given the immigration situation, I don’t think Illinois should be a sanctuary state and if Chicago removed its designation as a sanctuary city, maybe this would have a different outcome.”
Ugaste added the bill now pending in Springfield has been slow to gather much steam.
Greg Bishop contributed to this report.