County Board approves resolution regarding the emergency response to the abandonment of asylum seekers in Winnebago County


March 28, 2024

Contact: Danielle Grindle

Phone: (815) 319-4233

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. – Following the State of Illinois' disaster declaration establishing resources to assist foreign migrants in the sanctuary city of Chicago, the Winnebago County Board approves a resolution outlining the County's response in the event of a crisis where asylum seekers are abandoned in Winnebago County without means of transportation to the landing zone in Chicago.

Per the resolution, the County will only use resources in response to emergency situations related to the abandonment of asylum seekers who wish to have access to assistance being made available by the State. Those expenditures are limited to the cost of transportation to the landing zone in Chicago and any essential care needed prior to travel, including temporary shelter, food, water, and necessary medical care.

"The purpose of the resolution is to assure taxpayers that the County Board is utilizing tax dollars responsibly and legally," said District 7 Board Member Paul Arena (R), who authored the resolution. "It does not prohibit immigrants from coming to Winnebago County at their own expense to make this community their home."

On January 21, 2024, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency-Office of Homeland Security (IEMA-OHS) approved the Response Planning Guide for Uncoordinated Asylum Seeker Arrivals, providing guidance to units of government for the "Onward Movement" of Asylum Seekers to the landing zone in the City of Chicago. The Winnebago County Migrant Contingency Plan was created based on the IEMA guidelines. Its purpose is to help asylum seekers continue their journey to the landing zone in Chicago, where they can access essential services, such as shelter and food.

"Winnebago County emergency management works to create a safe and resilient county for handling the unexpected," said Winnebago County Emergency Services & Disaster Agency (ESDA) Coordinator Trent Brass, who drafted the contingency plan. "This plan has been designed to ensure the safety and well-being of asylum seekers who want to access the wraparound services provided by the State of Illinois at the landing zone."

The plan was developed following the airplane transporting migrants from Texas that arrived at the Chicago Rockford International (RFD) Airport on December 30, 2023. It covers different support aspects, such as temporary respite care, transportation coordination, care packages, translation services, personnel support, and coordinated communication with State and local community partners.

An amendment to a section of this resolution was made on the floor by District 20 Board Member John Sweeney (R) and approved by the County Board. The entire approved amended resolution can be viewed here: