A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy faces deportation after Border Patrol agents took her into custody following emergency gall bladder surgery. Rosa Maria Hernandez was brought to Laredo, Texas, from Mexico by her parents when she was a baby. The girl is now at a detention facility in San Antonio, waiting to be processed.
An attorney for the family says the Border Patrol agents stayed at the hospital during the surgery and kept the girl in sight as she recovered – not even allowing the door to her hospital room to be closed until the lawyer cited attorney-client privilege.
Around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, Rosa Maria Hernandez was being rushed by ambulance to Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christie. At a checkpoint, border agents discovered she was undocumented, then followed her to the hospital.
Hernandez's cousin Aurora Cantu – an American citizen – was there, and says after emergency gall bladder surgery, agents pressured the Hernandez family to transfer her to a Mexican hospital, but they declined. So agents took Rosa Maria into custody.
"This is detrimental to a child in that capacity," said Leticia Gonzalez, an attorney for the Hernandez family. She says the border patrol agents had the discretion to let the child go.
"I see the little face that says 'mommy' and that was not something that I could give her," Gonzalez said. The child's mother, Felipa de la Cruz, said "I don't want them to deport her, Mexico isn't safe, she needs therapy and her doctors."
Both parents are undocumented immigrants. They brought Rosa Maria to the U.S. when she was three months old to get her better medical treatment. They stayed behind in Laredo while she was rushed to the hospital fearing they might be detained, not thinking their daughter would face the same fate.
In a statement, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said, "Once medically cleared she (Hernandez) will be processed accordingly." Democratic representative Henry Cuellar, who represents the Laredo area in Congress, is pushing for Hernandez's release.
"I understand the CBP has a tremendous duty to protect our nation but we should be devoting our resources and focus on bigger threats," Cuellar said. Rosa Maria could remain at the detention center in San Antonio for unaccompanied minors for several weeks while her case is being expedited.
The family attorney says the statement from border protection indicates the girl is definitely on track to be deported.
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