‘Blood on His Hands’: Abbott Under Fire for Busing Migrants to Chicago After 3-Year-Old Dies

“Not sure how many migrants need to literally die on Greg Abbott’s watch for us to treat what’s happening at the Texas border as the national scandal that it should be,” said one journalist.

By Jessica Corbett Published 8-12-2023 by Common Dreams

Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Photo: Public domain

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott faced fresh criticism on Friday after officials confirmed a young child died during a bus trip from the border city of Brownsville to Chicago, Illinois—part of the Republican’s monthslong stunt of transporting migrants to communities with Democratic leaders.

“The Illinois Department of Public Health said the child was 3 years old and died Thursday in Marion County, in the southern part of that state,” according to The Associated Press.

Citing Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), whose office was briefed on the death, The New York Times reported that “the child’s parents were also on the bus when the child began showing symptoms of an illness, including a fever and diarrhea, before losing consciousness.”

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) said in a statement that “once the child presented with health concerns, the bus pulled over and security personnel on board called 911 for emergency attention. After the ambulance arrived, bilingual security personnel translated for the parents and the paramedics who were providing care for the child.”

“The child was then taken to a local hospital to receive additional medical attention and was later pronounced deceased,” TDEM continued. The division noted that prior to boarding a bus “stocked with food and water,” passengers “signed a voluntary consent waiver” to travel to Chicago and were screened for medical concerns.

“Devastating,” declared United Farm Workers president Teresa Romera in response to the child’s death. “This should tell you exactly how little Gov. Abbott values human life. Absolutely despicable.”

Castro said on social media Friday evening that “I’m saddened and horrified but not surprised by a child’s death on a Texas-sponsored bus to Chicago. Operation Lone Star has trafficked asylum-seekers across the country in squalid conditions for months. Gov. Greg Abbott’s barbaric practices are killing people.”

As the Chicago Tribune detailed:

Chicago has received at least 176 buses and more than 12,000 people in the 11 months since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began sending migrants from Texas to the city last year. The city of Denver and Catholic Charities in San Antonio have also sent buses of migrants to Chicago.

The busloads have contributed to a humanitarian crisis as the thousands of newly arrived people stretch city resources. Migrants have filled police station lobbies and large shelters across Chicago. Nearly 6,000 migrants resided in city-run temporary shelters at the start of August, while about 1,000 awaited placement.

The governor’s Operation Lone Star includes a buoy barrier installed in the Rio Grande—which in July prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to sue Abbott and Texas. The suit says that “this floating barrier poses threats to navigation and public safety and presents humanitarian concerns” and cites “diplomatic protests by Mexico.”

Since then, Mexican authorities have confirmed the discovery of two bodies in the river, including one found on the buoys.

Some critics of Abbott noted the mounting death toll on Friday. Among them was Democratic strategist and consultant Sawyer Hackett, who said of the governor, “He has blood on his hands.”

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan wrote on social media, “Not sure how many migrants need to literally die on Greg Abbott’s watch for us to treat what’s happening at the Texas border as the national scandal that it should be.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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