SAU Buzz

Immigration detains child with cerebral palsy

by Mary Roche
Posted on Nov 02, 2017

This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained an ambulance with a girl inside who was on her way to the hospital for emergency surgery.

Rosamaria Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant, whose mother brought her to the United States from Mexico for better healthcare. Hernandez was three months old at the time.

Hernandez was accompanied in the ambulance by an adult cousin who is a legal resident of the United States. The pair were headed to Driscoll Children’s Hospital because Hernandez needed emergency gallbladder surgery. The ambulance passed through an immigration checkpoint, and agents discovered that Hernandez was undocumented.

ICE followed the ambulance to the hospital and stationed agents outside of 10 year old Hernandez’s room. The family’s lawyer, Leticia Gonzalez, said that the door to Hernandez’s room was kept open during the entire hospital stay  Doctors recommended that Hernandez be released to family who would be familiar with her condition and developmental delays. However, upon discharge, ICE agents transported her to a facility in San Antonio, over 100 miles from her parents.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Patrol told NPR that the ICE agents were only following the law and doing their job. Normally, children are detained if they cross the border unaccompanied or are suspected of gang affiliation. This case is unusual because there is very little possibility that Hernandez poses a significant threat to national security.

“The federal government maintains detention centers for adult immigrants it plans to deport, facilities for families who arrive at the border together and shelters for children who come by themselves, known as unaccompanied minors,” The New York Times wrote. “But it is rare, if not unheard-of, for a child already living in the United States to be arrested — particularly one with a serious medical condition.”

Hernandez’s cousin, Aurora Cantu, told caseworkers that the agents wanted the family to voluntarily transfer her to a hospital in Mexico. The family would not sign a departure form, though.

“I’m a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed,” Hernandez’s mother, Felipa de la Cruz said to 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.”

Their lawyer has further shared that Hernandez does not understand what is going on and will not be able to receive the proper care in a detainment facility.

People have been speaking out against ICE arresting Hernandez since the event early last week. The ACLU in Texas has released a statement of outrage, and some Democratic congresspeople have also spoken to the press.