By William Melhado
Originally appeared in the Texas Tribune
After a 3-year-old began showing signs of distress, the bus of asylum-seekers traveling from Brownsville to Chicago pulled over and an ambulance was called. The child later died at a hospital in Illinois.
A child traveling to Chicago as part of the state’s migrant busing program died, according to a Friday afternoon statement from the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the 3-year-old child died on Thursday when the bus was entering Chicago. The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed to the newspaper that the state agency is investigating the death.
TDEM said that after the child’s health began deteriorating, the bus pulled over and an ambulance was called. The child was taken to a local hospital, where they died.
TDEM’s statement did not include information about the child’s age, gender or nationality. The agency said that all of the passengers in the bus were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the City of Brownsville, which included a temperature check and medical screening. No passengers had showed signs of fever or medical concerns, the agency said.
According to state officials, passengers were released by the federal government and willingly chose to go to Chicago after signing a consent waiver.
“Each bus is stocked with food and water, which are distributed on board, and makes stops along the trip to refuel and switch drivers. Migrants are allowed to purchase any additional provisions or disembark at any of these stops,” the TDEM statement read.
Since April 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott has been busing migrants to Democratic-led cities across the country, which he has said is intended to provide relief to Texas border communities. Abbott’s critics have said he is using migrants as pawns to win political points. Recently, Abbott announced that over 4,600 migrants have been bused to Chicago in the past year.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment as of Friday evening.
In May, an 8-year-old died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. An internal investigation into the child’s death uncovered multiple failings by contracted personnel working at a federal border station in Harlingen, including failing to contact doctors despite the mother’s pleas for help.
“We can — and we will — do better to ensure this never happens again,” CBP acting Commissioner Troy Miller said at the time of the investigation’s release.