Cass County Board Adopts Intercity Bus Ordinance

By Benjamin Cox on March 19, 2024 at 6:04am

The Cass County Board adopted an intercity bus ordinance at their regular meeting monthly meeting on March 11th.

The ordinance was in direct response to the busing of migrants from the southern border by officials in Texas and Florida to the City of Chicago and other northern Illinois cities.

The Cass County ordinance requires any intercity bus company to make an application for drop off in the county to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office within five business days prior to arrival to load and unload passengers who don’t have any permanent housing.

Cass County District 1 Board member Eric Snellgrove says that the ordinance is in regards to any intercity bus, regardless of whether that bus is carrying migrants from the southern border or not: “What [the ordinance] does do is it restricts anybody from getting dropped off [in the county] without a place to stay. At least that is the full intent. It does not mention migrant status, immigration status, citizenship. What it does do is that it says that a busing company cannot drop off a group of people without a place to stay focusing on housing and background checks. What it does not do, it does not prevent any group from sending somebody from Chicago or from Texas to Cass County, but what it does do is it gives us a heads up and it lets us know who is coming. It’s something that allows us to prepare the county for anything that may come but also allows us to know who is coming and be ready for it.”

Snellgrove says a draft of the ordinance came out several weeks ago and caused major uproar. Snellgrove part of it has been rumors that have circulated in the county that migrants had been dropped off already: “There’s always the phone tree rumors that come around. I won’t speak to anything that the Chiefs of Police have taken as official reports. The only issue that we’ve had in Cass County had nothing to do with any border or asylum seeker issues. It was miscommunication with one of the employers in the county, but that did, in turn, cause other rumors that we already had folks dropped off here improperly. The phone tree game caused a lot of issues with that.”

Snellgrove says most rumors about the large immigrant population in Cass County are usually quashed fairly quickly due to the large population of now first and second generation Americans that live in the county who wish to protect both themselves and their neighbors from any harm.

Snellgrove says that the ordinance was a bipartisan measure worked out over the last several weeks between the board and other elected officials: “One of the questions that I’ve been getting a lot lately is who voted ‘yes’ and who voted ‘no.’ That will be public knowledge when the minutes come out next month once they are approved. I will say that we had 3 board members who voted ‘present’ and then we had 3 Democrats that voted ‘yes’ and we had 4 Republicans that voted ‘yes.’ So, this is a bipartisan ordinance that was put in place for the betterment of the entire community, whether they are here for work, first generation Americans, or your families have been here since the 1800s. This was something that had a rocky start, but we came together as a community countywide. I think it is a good thing.”

According to the Cass County Star-Gazette, District 1 Board Member Cathy Gibson, District 2 Board Members Kim Hance and Connie Starkey all voted ‘present’ on the ordinance. District 2 Board Member Gary Noe was absent from the meeting. All remaining board members voted in favor of the measure.

Snellgrove says that there hasn’t been any communications with State of Illinois officials after the ordinance’s passage because of the language in the ordinance. He says he doesn’t anticipate any backlash from state officials because it treats both the county and those who may come there with dignity and respect.