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Migrant child dies on Gov. Abbott’s Operation Lone Star bus from Brownsville to Chicago

Paul Ratje
A silhouette of a Venezuelan child is seen through a window while a group of migrants board a bus to New York at the Centro de los Trabajadores Agricolas Fronterizos in El Paso, Texas.

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A three-year-old migrant child traveling to Chicago from Brownsville died on Thursday. The death was confirmed by the Chicago Tribune via the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

The migrant child and their parents were processed in Brownsville by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the City of Brownsville.

When the bus got to Illinois, the child had a medical emergency, the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) said in a statement.

Security staff on the bus called 9-1-1 and the child was transported to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead. No cause of death was given.

TDEM said all passengers on that bus had been screened for fevers and were asked whether they had medical conditions that needed attention. The bus had food and water on it, the agency said, and made refueling stops.

“Following this check, prior to boarding, no passenger presented with a fever or medical concerns,” the statement read.

Texas has been bussing migrants from the border to large Democratic-run cities under Gov. Greg Abbott’s direction. TDEM has bussed more than 12,000 migrants to Chicago in the last year.

About 40 migrants were transported to Los Angeles from Texas earlier this week as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s ongoing effort to have so-called sanctuary cities take the burden off Texas border towns.

“For months, Operation Lone Star has trafficked asylum-seekers across the country in squalid conditions,” Congress members Joaquin Castro and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said in a joint statement. “Governor Abbott’s barbaric practices are killing people, and the Biden administration has an obligation to stop them.”

IDPH is currently investigating the cause of death.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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Gaige Davila is a journalist based in the Rio Grande Valley. He was TPR's Border and Immigration Reporter from 2021-2024.