A little girl with cerebral palsy, who has lived in the U.S. since she was an infant, is facing deportation following a life-saving surgical procedure in a Texas hospital.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that Rosamaria Hernandez, 10, and her cousin were in an ambulance, en route from a Laredo hospital to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi in October, when immigrations agents started following them. Rosamaria, undocumented, was on her way to undergo gallbladder removal.
Once inside the hospital, the agents waited outside of her room, with the intent of detaining her after her procedure.
Once released, agents transported the little girl to a shelter in San Antonio, where migrant children are held without their parents. The agents took the girl despite a doctor urging them not to, claiming that she needed to see her family’s primary care doctor for post-surgery follow ups.
“Their orders are to process her,” said Leticia Gonzalez, an advocate who works with Rosamaria’s immigration attorney, Alex Galvez. “At this point, our argument to [immigration officials] is there is a doctor’s directive, why aren’t you following it?”
Rosamaria’s parents brought her to Laredo when she was three months old. Her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, said they couldn’t afford treatment for the girl’s cerebral palsy in Mexico, but in Texas, Medicaid helped pay for it.
Even though she’s lived in the U.S. for 10 years, Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, Rod Kise, stressed that regardless of her age, how she got here, or her disability, she is no exception to the rules in place for undocumented immigration.
“I’m a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed,” de la Cruz said in an interview with the New York Times. “It never crossed my mind that any of what is happening right now could happen. When you’re a mother, all you care about is your child.”
“Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly. The Mexican Consulate has been advised of the situation by Laredo Sector Border Patrol.”
Although it’s common for agents to detain unauthorized teens in the nation who are known to be involved in gangs and other illegal activities, or families caught at the border crossing over together, the New York Times reports that it’s almost unheard of to detain a child already living in the U.S., especially one with a disability.
“The fact that they spent so much time and resources to follow this girl, to treat her like she was the highest-priority criminal that ever walked on this earth — the way they’re treating her is just beyond what a 10-year-old special needs child should be treated,” said immigration activist at the Workers Defense Action Fund, Priscila Martinez.
Attorney Alex Galvez said that Rosamaria has never been away from her mother for this long, and remains detained.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security plans to do a home study to determine if they should release her back to her parents. Galvez said that the case has been flagged by the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement for expediting.