Naperville city councilman suggests sign-up sheet for families interested in housing migrants

Naperville City Councilman Josh McBroom
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At Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting, one council member suggested his idea to support migrants coming through the city.

Councilman Josh McBroom recommended a sign-up sheet for local families who are interested in housing migrants.

“We hear from people that we should do more,” said McBroom. “We do have a very affluent community, a lot of big homes.”

Support for migrants was not on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, rather McBroom suggested it during new business. He said there was an “increasing pressure for suburbs to do our part,” but the councilman was against using city funds.

“I’m hearing stories about little kids at train stations without coats on,” said McBroom. “I’m not going to support using other people’s money to house or aid. I do know there’s a lot of people who care, and I think we live in a compassionate community.”

Dais feedback on the sign-up sheet

Councilman Nate Wilson supported the idea of a sign-up sheet. He said he had discussions with city staff about migrants and would like to get input from around Naperville.

“We obviously don’t want kids or people in general out when it’s negative ten degrees… (I) would definitely like to see what sort of impact this would have on public schools or any other city services, and try to get input from (Naperville School) District 203 or (Indian Prairie School) District 204,” said Wilson.

Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor asked McBroom for “more clarity” on what he envisioned for the project.

“This could be as simple as directing people to email this email address,” said McBroom. “They can be anonymous or not if they like.”

Mayor Scott Wehrli voiced his issues with McBroom’s idea.

“I’d be concerned about our liability and potential screening and necessary things that are involved in trying to connect families to shelter migrants, and any exposure we would have in the city level,” said Wehrli.

Councilman Patrick Kelly spoke against dedicating staff time toward the sign-up sheet.

“I don’t think I would support even that much time on a project like this, barring a request from staff that we’ve heard from the community,” said Kelly.

The dais took a straw poll vote and four council members supported the initiative, so city staff will look into the topic and report back to the council at a future meeting.

Migrants arrive at Naperville Metra Station

Back in December, groups of unapproved migrants began arriving via bus at Naperville’s Metra Station.

Since Dec. 21, six total buses with migrants have stopped at the downtown Naperville Metra Station, according to Naperville’s Director of Communications Linda LaCloche.

LaCloche could not say how many migrants were on the buses and where they came from; to her knowledge, none stayed in Naperville.

The influx of migrants traveling through Naperville comes after the City of Chicago approved new penalties for buses that drop off migrants. These penalties include bus seizures, impoundment, and fines.

To avoid such penalties, Chicago officials have said bus drivers started to unload migrants at suburban train stations. Some of those locations include Naperville, Aurora, Lockport, Kankakee, Fox River Grove, and Elmhurst.

Photo courtesy: City of Naperville

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