Philadelphia officials lashed out at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday after a 10-year-old girl who arrived in Philadelphia on a bus of migrants from Texas was hospitalized with dehydration and a fever.
The busload included 28 people in total, including 23 adults and five children, Philadelphia officials said at a press conference Wednesday. A request for comment about the child was not immediately returned by Abbott’s office.
Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym, a Democrat, told the NBC affiliate WCAU that “it’s one of the more inhumane aspects that they would put a child who was dehydrated with a fever now, a very high fever” on the bus.
Abbott, a Republican who was re-elected to a third term last week, announced in a press release Tuesday that his administration would be sending migrants to Philadelphia from his state for the first time Wednesday.
“Until the Biden Administration does its job and provides Texans and the American people with sustainable border security, Texas will continue doing more than any other state in the nation’s history to defend against an invasion along the border, including adding more sanctuary cities like Philadelphia as drop-off locations for our busing strategy,” Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott’s office said Philadelphia is an “ideal addition to Texas’ list of drop-off locations” for migrants because he said the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, “has long-celebrated and fought for sanctuary city status.”
In response, Kenney, a Democrat, expressed outrage Wednesday at Abbott for his tactics. Kenney said his office was told last week that a bus of roughly 30 asylum seekers would be expected to travel to his city from Del Rio, Texas, but said that Texas officials did not coordinate their arrival.
“This information was confirmed late yesterday without coordination or warning by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office through a press release,” Kenney said at the press conference held by city officials. “It’s not just unproductive and disappointing, but downright irresponsible and callous to do this unannounced and without coordination, showing blatant disregard for the sanctity of human lives.”
Kenney emphasized that the migrants are welcome in Philadelphia, saying officials are “focused as ever on welcoming and supporting anyone who wants to visit or live in our great city.”
“Gov. Abbott and his administration continue to implement their cruel and racist policies,” he continued, saying Abbott is “using immigrant families including children as pawns to shamelessly push their warped political agenda.”
Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden Wednesday, warning that his state would ramp up its efforts to deal with the influx of migrants. He said Biden must reinstate or implement new policies that enforce federal immigration laws “and protect the states against invasion.”
“Two years of inaction on your part now leave Texas with no choice but to escalate our efforts to secure our State,” the letter said. “Your open-border policies, which have catalyzed an unprecedented crisis of illegal immigration, are the sole cause of Texas having to invoke our constitutional authority to defend ourselves.”
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the U.S. government can no longer use a Trump-era policy that allowed authorities to severely limit asylum-seekers from crossing the border into the country during the height of the Covid pandemic. The Biden administration, which has sought to end the policy, said later Tuesday it wouldn’t oppose the judge’s order.
In recent months, Abbott has repeatedly sent migrants on buses from Texas to other major cities, including New York and Washington, D.C. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has made similar efforts.
Gary Grumbach contributed.