A Texas-based bus company has taken legal action against the City of Chicago, filing a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a recent ordinance aimed at regulating the drop-off of migrants. The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance, passed by Chicago's city council in December 2023, is unconstitutional and unfairly penalizes transportation companies doing business with Texas.
The amended traffic ordinance imposes fines and the threat of impoundment on bus companies that fail to comply with the city's new requirements for dropping off migrants. The provisions of the ordinance mandate that bus companies provide advance notice and seek approval from the city before dropping off migrants at designated landing zones.
To date, Chicago has filed at least 95 lawsuits against what it terms "rogue bus" companies for non-compliance with the ordinance. Two buses have been impounded since mid-December, resulting in significant costs for the companies involved, including one affiliated with Wynne Transportation.
Attorney Mike Kozlowski, representing Wynne Transportation and other fined bus companies, argues “It’s unconstitutional for a number of reasons – it’s really trying to address an immigration issue, and when we’re talking about immigration, that’s a federal issue.” Kozlowski asserts that the ordinance violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment, targeting a specific group – migrants arriving in Chicago.
Seeking a federal judge's ruling in favor of Wynne Transportation, Kozlowski suggests that a favorable outcome could be used to dismiss pending cases against bus companies in state court. However, no hearing date has been set for the federal lawsuit.
The City of Chicago, through its law department, confirmed receiving the complaint but declined to comment on ongoing litigation. The legal dispute highlights the tension between local and federal authorities in addressing immigration-related issues, raising questions about the constitutionality of city ordinances attempting to regulate such matters.
This legal battle is not an isolated incident, as earlier this month, New York City filed its own lawsuit against 17 bus companies, alleging that these companies were making substantial profits from transporting migrants, potentially earning up to $1650 per passenger.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott's administration has been actively involved in transporting migrants away from the state, with significant numbers sent to cities like New York and Chicago. The lawsuit filed by Wynne Transportation adds to the complex legal landscape surrounding the transportation of migrants, indicating a broader challenge in finding a balance between local regulations and federal immigration policies.
As the legal proceedings unfold, the outcome of Wynne Transportation's federal lawsuit may set a precedent for other bus companies facing similar challenges related to city ordinances attempting to regulate the transportation of migrants. Court dates for the bus companies involved in the City of Chicago's fines are pending in state court in February 2024.