Immigration Officials Refuse to Release a 10-Year-Old Girl Who Urgently Needs Medical Attention

Lead Photo: A Border Patrol agent patrols the border June 1, 2010 in Nogales, Arizona. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News
A Border Patrol agent patrols the border June 1, 2010 in Nogales, Arizona. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News
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After recovering from emergency gall bladder surgery, Rosa María Hernández and her family shouldn’t find themselves worrying about her deportation. But that’s exactly what’s happening. As an ambulance rushed the 10-year-old girl, an undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy, to the hospital, Border Patrol stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint. Though the agents allowed the ambulance to continue making its way to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, they tailed them the nearly 150 miles to the hospital. They then waited outside of the hospital room and after the surgery, took her into custody at a children’s shelter usually reserved for unaccompanied minors without family in the country. Doctors advised against taking her from the hospital, as she requires follow-up evaluations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued the Trump Administration for detaining the young girl; the group is fighting so that she can get the medical attention she needs.

“She was supposed to see her doctor this past Saturday, but because she is in detention she was unable to,” said Edgar Saldivar, a senior attorney with the ACLU of Texas, according to Texas Standard. “She also has an upcoming follow-up visit with her surgeon for this Friday, and without her being released, she won’t be able to make that, so this is definitely an emergency situation and we’re asking the court for help to make this happen.”

Although Rosa’s case is heartbreaking, Saldivar says her case isn’t rare. The ACLU of Texas has seen this play out several times already and that the country’s harsh immigration laws have kept some from going to the doctor or emergency room. “They’re scared of being [potentially] subjected to a deportation proceeding if they are undocumented.”

Immigration officials tried to get Rosa’s family to sign a voluntary departure form so that she could seek treatment in Mexico, but they refused. Rosa’s mom, Felipa de la Cruz, said her family moved from Nuevo Laredo to Texas when her daughter was just three months old. They crossed the border in hopes of getting her better medical care.

But now, as she’s put in the middle of an extremely stressful situation without her parents by her side, her family worries that it will be detrimental to her health. In the temporary restraining order the ACLU also filed against the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Dr. Rachel Vandermeer stated, “Given the limited health reserve of most children with CP [cerebral palsy], parental loss or separation can have grave impact on the child’s overall prognosis and health trajectory with resultant acute decline which would have otherwise been potentially delayed.”

Her family is also concerned that because she is separated from her parents, she won’t be able to verbalize her pain as she recovers from surgery, according to Broadly. Rosa’s mom states that the young girl believes she’s in a medical facility and has no idea she’s at risk for deportation. As they await the results of the ACLU lawsuit, Rosa’s family is making another push to sponsor her and to bring her home.