The story of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy detained by Border Patrol agents after she underwent gallbladder surgery in Corpus Cristi this week has sparked outrage among immigration rights activists – and, frankly, way beyond.
A front page piece by the editorial board of the McAllen Monitor reads “Detainment of disabled child by Border Patrol should ‘shock us’ all.” Here’s the story.
The 10-year-old girl, Rosamaria Hernandez, has been living with her mother, who is also undocumented, in Laredo, Texas. After her surgery at a Corpus Christi hospital, she was discharged – and officers of the U.S. Border Patrol were waiting outside to apprehend her. She was detained, taken to San Antonio and – from what we last heard – the deportation process has started.
Alex Galvez, an immigration attorney based in California, is representing the family.
Galvez says the family knew that traveling to the hospital was risky, so the girl was accompanied by an aunt who is a U.S. citizen.
“She needed to be transported from Laredo to Corpus Christi,” he says. “That’s why the mom didn’t go with the child, because they knew about this checkpoint.”
Galvez says they were asked for their documentation at the checkpoint. “As we know, she’s undocumented, she’s been living here in the U.S. for the last 10 years. She came to the U.S. when she was three months old,” Galvez says. “They provided the letter from the hospital stating that she needed this surgery to take place that same day. They allowed her to pass through, however they were followed from the checkpoint to the hospital and that’s how we had two CBP officers waiting in the waiting room.”
Galvez says policy was broken, and policy has changed.
“This is the new normal,” Galvez says. “[Hospitals] were sanctuaries. They were considered places where Immigration was not to be allowed to go in there.”
He says Immigration could have mailed the family a notice that the girl was being placed in removal proceedings, rather than waiting at the hospital.
“We are no longer seeing that immigration law is being applied in a humanitarian manner, or with a heart,” he says.
The Laredo office of the Border Patrol provided Texas Standard with a statement about the case. It appears on this page.
Written by Jen Rice.