Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have detained 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez immediately after a surgical operation and discharge from a Texas hospital. Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy, who, at the age of 3 months, was brought into the United States by her mother and the rest of her family—all undocumented—in the hopes of receiving better medical care.
In October, the young immigrant was transported by ambulance for gallbladder surgery, rushed from one hospital to the other as immigration agents trailed behind. While in admission, agents kept close watch and ensured that the door of her hospital room was kept open.
She was eventually detained after doctors released her with the recommendation that she be accompanied by a family member who is familiar with her medical and psychological needs. Despite the recommendation, she was promptly transferred to a juvenile shelter in San Antonio, over a hundred miles away from her home and family in Laredo, and now awaits deportation.
Despite the protest of immigrant rights advocates, Customs and Border Patrol stood by the actions of its agents in apprehending Hernandez, with spokesman Dan Hetlage arguing that they were only carrying out their mandate to enforce federal immigration law. According to him, the agents would have been wrong if they had let Hernandez go, adding that they were simply following the law.
Border Patrol also claimed that agents acted on the Rosa Maria’s case “as humanely as possible,” trailing Rosa Maria to the hospital to ensure that she was properly attended to.
San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro, however, disagreed, comparing Hernandez’s treatment to that of a hardened convict, pointing out that the arrest happened despite the fact that the “sensitive locations” policy is still in effect.
A sensitive location is a place where agents are discouraged from engaging in enforcement activities. An exception is made, however, for matters regarding national security and public safety, and, according to Rep. Castro, young Rosa Maria Hernandez is in no way a threat to national security or public safety.
Customs and Border Patrol argued that Hernandez was technically arrested at a checkpoint and not at the hospital, to which Castro responded by pointing out that CBP agents were staked outside her hospital room.
The American Civil Liberties Union has agreed to take on Hernandez’s case, filing suit against the Trump administration and demanding the 10-year-old girl’s immediate release.
“She’s been ripped away from the only home she knows and the mother who cares for her best,” said Andre Segura, Texas ACLU Director.
Hernandez is currently being held at the BCFS Health and Human Services shelter in San Antonio. Segura said she has never been separated from her family.
For more immigration news and updates, be sure to follow this blog. If you, or a loved one, are involved in an immigration case and want to know your rights, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle can help you.