Ottawa creates emergency response for migrant bus drop-offs

City will care for migrants with intent of getting them to Chicago

Ottawa City Hall

Should any buses carrying migrants drop them in Ottawa, the city has created an emergency response plan that calls for temporarily taking care of them and quickly getting them to Chicago, officials said.

Mayor Robb Hasty on Wednesday said the city put together an emergency response with community organizations, including The Salvation Army, A Servant’s Heart, Public Action to Deliver Shelter and local churches, among other organizations.

Hasty said the plan focuses on providing warm shelter, food and clothing in the short term – for two, four or six hours – until a bus can get the migrants to Chicago.

Police Chief Brent Roalson said police will respond should migrants be left in Ottawa, and then they will carry out the plan, Hasty said.

Ottawa is one of many communities within a 100-mile radius of Chicago discussing plans for what happens if a bus were to leave migrants within the city.

Migrants arriving in northern Illinois cities is the latest in a trend seen over the past year as Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration transports groups crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to Democratic-led cities such as Chicago, The Associated Press reported.

Chicago city leaders, however, have since imposed penalties of their own on unscheduled bus drop-offs, saying the abrupt nature of the drop-offs doesn’t allow the city to adequately prepare to house those in need.

As a result of these new rules in Chicago, a number of buses have left migrants in Chicago suburbs.

Hasty said the city would notify the La Salle County Emergency Management Agency if a drop-off were to occur in Ottawa. So far, there have been none of these occurrences in La Salle County.

Hasty said Ottawa is approaching a possible drop-off as an emergency situation and responding in a manner that takes care of the migrants then gets them to Chicago, where the most resources are available to them.

The mayor said city officials and the police chief met with community organizations to get their input and put together the response plan.

Ottawa is not alone in considering its policy should migrants be left in La Salle County. The County Board is expected to vote at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, on being a “nonsanctuary county.”

Meanwhile, the Marseilles City Council put in place an ordinance giving the city the ability to fine or impound buses carrying migrants.

The La Salle and Streator councils discussed how to handle the situation but did not take action.