10-year-old disabled girl stopped by immigration agents on way to emergency surgery finally reunited with family

She had been in federal custody for over a week

Clark Mindock
New YOrk
Friday 03 November 2017 23:29
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10-year-old undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy escorted by border patrol agents

A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was detained by American immigration enforcement while seeking emergency surgery has been released from federal custody into the care of her family, a week and a half after she was initially detained.

It is not clear if RosaMaria Hernandez, who came to the United States when she was just three months old, will face deportation proceedings or eventual removal to Mexico. RosaMaria was released into the care of her family.

RosaMaria’s was first detained last Tuesday after she was identified as undocumented at an inland Border Patrol checkpoint while traveling in an ambulance from Laredo, Texas, to Corpus Christi. Doctors in Laredo, her hometown, had informed her family that she was in need of emergency gall bladder surgery, which could not be done there because the city does not have pediatric surgery capacity.

Her mother, who is also undocumented, had stayed behind knowing that she would likely be detained by Border Patrol at the inland checkpoint if she accompanied her daughter the 150 miles across the state to the Gulf coast. RosaMaria was instead accompanied by an American citizen cousin.

Border Patrol agents followed the ambulance after it passed through the inland checkpoint, and agents were posted on rotation within eyesight of RosaMaria over the next day. Her lawyer said that they were present during her surgery, during follow up procedures, and refused to let the family close the door for privacy as RosaMaria recovered from her procedure.

She was eventually taken by US immigration services to a children’s shelter in San Antonio, which is typically used for unaccompanied minors who arrive at the US border seeking refuge. Her mother has only been able to speak with her through Facetime and on the phone since.

Representative Joaquin Castro, who represents a Southern Texas district in Washington, and has been working on the issue, said that RosaMaria’s release is a good step but that it isn’t enough.

“While this is welcome news, RosaMaria’s future remains uncertain. The Trump Administration has not made clear whether they will proceed with deportation proceedings against her,” Mr Castro said in a statement. “I continue to call for RosaMaria’s case to be administratively closed. Moving forward, we must address the Trump Administration’s callous actions. The United States should not be a place where children seeking life-sustaining medical care are at risk of apprehension. I urge the Department of Homeland Security to abide by its claims that dangerous criminals are the agency’s priority and reinforce its sensitive locations policies to employees. A case like Rosa Maria’s should never happen again.”

The administration of Donald Trump has significantly increased the number of arrests in the United States since taking office, and has apparently begun targeting non-criminal aliens who live in the US without documentation.

US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to request for comment on this case, or whether it would pursue deportation for RosaMaria.

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