Family of little girl killed by illegal immigrant shares emotional story, aims to take action in Congress

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EXCLUSIVE: The family of a little girl who died at the hands of an illegal immigrant in October is fighting to prevent similar tragedies in the future by making a change at the highest levels of government.

Three-year-old Maddie Hines was killed when Gabriel Arteaga, who was being sought by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and did not have a driver’s license, allegedly ran a stop sign and plowed into the side of the family’s SUV.

Maddie’s death is what’s driving her godfather, Republican state Rep. Stewart Jones, to run for Congress and take action to fix the border crisis, including deporting the millions of people residing in the U.S. illegally. His run is being backed by Maddie’s mother, Chelsey, who credits God for providing peace to her family in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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“The main reason I am running for the 3rd Congressional District, is because my goddaughter, Maddie Hines, died senselessly and needlessly due to the actions of an illegal alien,” Jones, who has served in the state legislature for five years, told Fox News Digital in an interview alongside Chelsey. “This is really a personal issue to me. I’m going to go to Washington and fix this problem and secure our border.”

Jones and his wife have a nearly two-decade-long relationship with the Hines family, who also serve as godparents to their children. He says that, although “Heaven forbid” anything happen to him and his wife, he knows his children will be taken care of.

Chelsey described to Fox what unfolded on the day of the crash, including how Maddie told her she loved her from the back seat right before their vehicle was struck, killing the child instantly. She said Stewart, who she calls “Stew,” was the first to arrive at the scene after the first responders, and that he rode in the ambulance with Maddie and prayed over her. 

“It’s been really hard, but very peaceful. I feel like God has been with us through it all,” she said. “I just felt like that day, time stood still. It literally stood still. People talk about that all the time, but I immediately felt God’s love, his peace. It was like an eerie — You just can’t explain it unless you go through it.”

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Hines, Jones

“To go through something like that and to have someone like them by our side has been amazing. Stew has gone above and beyond, and I feel like that’s his type of personality. Stew, when he sets his mind and his heart on something, and he sees that it needs to change, or he sees that something needs to get done, he gets the job done,” she said. 

“And so to think that he is running for Congress, I’m like, of course you’re running for Congress, and of course you’re going to be amazing at it. I have no doubt in my mind,” she added.

Arteaga, 25, was charged with one count of reckless homicide and not having a driver’s license. The judge presiding over the case revoked his $50,000 bail after he was informed ICE was looking to take him, ensuring he would be available to stand trial, the Clinton Chronicle reported.

Both Chelsey and Stewart lamented the situation at the southern border that led to Maddie’s death, and said there were too many stories just like theirs going untold. They also blasted politicians and others who’ve dismissed any notion of there being a border crisis.

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“I’ve seen interviews where people are laughing, and they are saying the border is not an issue,” Chelsey said. “It’s not an issue because it doesn’t apply to you, and you have not become that statistic yet. And until your family goes through what we have gone through, the loss of a child — it’s something we deal with every single day.” 

Jones vowed that, if elected, he would work to deport all illegal immigrants in the U.S., as well as end the programs and benefits he says are driving many of them to come.

“We’ve got to go after any kind of nonprofit, any kind of program that’s supporting and encouraging this illegal activity,” he said. “Second and probably most importantly, we’ve got to complete the wall.” 

“The third piece to this puzzle is we’ve got to work with local law enforcement in order to identify and deport those who are here illegally,” he added. “I want to make sure that those who have committed crimes stand trial, and the ones that haven’t, that are here illegally, we need to get them out of here.”

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Jones, Hines

Jones faces a crowded GOP primary field, where the winner will likely become the next member of Congress representing the district considering its strong Republican leanings.

Chelsey says Jones’ integrity and character are what make him the best choice among the candidates, and that she gave the approval for him to take Maddie’s story and use it to make a difference.

“I completely believe that God has blessed him and God has put him here … I feel God has orchestrated everything up to this moment, because he knew that Stew would be the only one that could carry this all the way, and he could get the job done,” she said. 

“Maddie, even though she’s not here, this legacy, and what we stand for, will continue to keep going. And I feel like Stew’s the one who can carry that,” she added.

The primary will be held Tuesday, June 11. If no candidate reaches a majority, the top two candidates will head to a runoff to be held on June 25.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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