On Migrant Bus From Texas to Chicago, a 'Tragic Situation'

3-year-old dies after health issues during trip, part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2023 7:45 AM CDT
Officials: 3-Year-Old Dies on Migrant Bus Out of Texas
Migrants are seen on a bus set to take them to a refugee center in the Chicago area on Aug. 31.   (Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

A 3-year-old traveling on a bus of asylum-seekers headed from Texas to Chicago died before reaching that destination. ABC News reports that confirmation of the child's death came via a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, who noted the agency is working with local and state law enforcement, as well as federal authorities, "to the fullest extent possible to get answers in this tragic situation." Citing the Chicago Tribune, the Texas Tribune reports that the child died on Thursday as the bus approached Chicago. Per the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the bus pulled over as soon as it became clear the child's health was going south, and an ambulance was alerted.

According to a statement cited by ABC, the parents had to communicate with paramedics through "bilingual security personnel." The child was brought to a nearby hospital, where they died. There's been no word on the child's gender or nationality, or what illness they'd suffered from. The Texas agency says that all of the passengers on the bus had been processed by US Customs and Border Protection and the city of Brownsville, which the AP notes was the city the bus had originally departed from. TDEM says that the screening at the border had included a medical checkup and that the passengers' temperatures had been taken before the trip.

"Each bus is stocked with food and water, which are distributed on board," according to an agency statement. State officials also say that the passengers in this case were willingly traveling to Chicago and had signed consent paperwork. The AP reports that more than 30,000 migrants have been bused out of Texas to Democratic-run cities across the US since April 2022, when the busing program was launched as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star.

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Close to 5,000 migrants have been bused to Chicago alone this year, Abbott recently announced. Abbott himself hasn't commented on the death of the 3-year-old, but on Thursday he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: "We will continue busing migrants to sanctuary cities until Biden does his job & secures the border." Democratic US Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents a Texas district abutting the border with Mexico, put Abbott on blast over the development. "You can't use the migrants as political pawns," Cuellar said, per the AP. "You still got to be accountable to taking care of them, especially if you're transporting kids." (Read more migrants stories.)

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