Feb 6, 2024 - News

Chicago cites migrant bus operators for illegally dumping waste

Illustration of a poop emoji with crime scene tape in front of it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Bus operators bringing migrants to Chicago have racked up dozens of violations since the city issued new restrictions in November, including illegal waste dumping.

Why it matters: Chicago has struggled to hold bus companies accountable for a slew of issues that put both migrants and the city at risk.

By the numbers: City officials so far have impounded two buses and issued 95 citations, including for dropping off passengers at unapproved locations or during unapproved times. Some were ticketed for operating without permits.

  • They've also cited three bus companies for illegally dumping waste.
  • Operators had until late Monday to respond to the charges.

What they're saying: The office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — who boasts that he's bused about 31,000 migrants to Chicago since 2022 — did not respond to Axios' request for comment about the allegations.

  • City officials haven't yet said how many operators responded to the citations.

Flashback: The alleged dumping comes 20 years after another high-profile waste incident involving a visiting bus outraged Chicagoans.

  • On Aug. 8, 2004, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus released 800 pounds of liquid waste from the Kinzie Street Bridge onto passengers of an architectural tour boat below.
  • Some passengers fell ill. The band eventually paid $200,000 in fines for the violation.
  • Since then, people have placed signs on the bridge commemorating the incident — including one last year that read, "No one died that day but many wish they had."

What we're watching: One of the ticketed Texas bus companies has filed a lawsuit against the city, charging that the drop-off restrictions violate interstate commerce laws, among others.

What's next: The city's Law Department says it will continue to prosecute the cases over the next several months.


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