By Ted Hesson and Bastiaan Slabbers
PHILADELPHIA, (Reuters) – Philadelphia emergency workers on Wednesday took a child to the hospital from a bus that had just arrived with migrants from the US-Mexico border, and city officials berated Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for he had sent the bus without coordinating it in advance.
A chartered bus carrying 28 migrants arrived in the city early Wednesday morning as part of an effort by the Republican governor of Texas to draw attention to security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Abbott and some other Republican governors have been moving migrants to Democratic-controlled northern cities.
The bus pulled up near Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station around 6 a.m. and was met by city workers with blankets, coats and coffee, Philadelphia city officials said at a news conference.
The child and a parent were taken to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Officials declined to disclose the illness and it was not clear when the child would be released.
Democratic Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney held a press conference and slammed Abbott and other Texas officials for what he called “cruel and racist policies.”
“I think they have fun and enjoy playing with people’s lives,” Kenney said.
Abbott, who won a third term in the US midterm elections last week, has made a sensational demonstration of his opposition to US President Joe Biden’s border policies. Abbott thinks Biden’s policies are too lenient. A record number of migrants were caught at the border during Biden’s presidency.
On Tuesday, Abbott tweeted that he would invoke the “invasion clauses” of the US and Texas constitutions to take “unprecedented steps” in defense of the state. In a letter to Texas officials Wednesday, Abbott said the Texas National Guard will “deter and turn back immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally.”
US federal agencies are tasked with managing the border, and it remained unclear whether Abbott’s actions could lead to legal challenges.
Abbott said the declaration gives him the power to negotiate bilateral deals with other nations. Mexico’s foreign ministry dismissed the idea in a statement Tuesday, saying these were “exclusive powers of the federal government.”
Since April, Texas has bused about 13,000 migrants to Washington, DC, New York City and Chicago. The program has declined in recent weeks as the Biden administration began swiftly expelling Venezuelans to Mexico under a public health order. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that the health injunction was unlawful.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said the city will be on the lookout for signs that the migrants were coerced or tricked into boarding buses.
In September, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis chartered a plane to fly mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to the vacation enclave of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The migrants said they were misled and a Texas sheriff opened an investigation.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington and Bastiaan Slabbers in Philadelphia; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and David Gregorio)