Senseless immigration enforcement hit a new low this week with Border Patrol’s detention of Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old undocumented girl with cerebral palsy, after she was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery in Texas.
The girl, who has been living in the U.S. since the age of 3 months, was spotted by immigration on October 24.
ACLU and other immigrant rights organizations have sent the Office of Refugee Resettlement an ultimatum demanding the release of the girl to her parents’ care and have put forward a campaign to pressure immigration authorities on social media.
Last week, Rosa Maria was diagnosed with gallbladder problems that required surgery. The girl, who has mental and physical disabilities due to cerebral palsy, was transported from her parents’ home in Laredo, Texas to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, 80 miles away.
Since both Rosa Maria’s parents are undocumented, they asked a citizen adult cousin to take the girl through a federal immigration checkpoint common in border communities such as Laredo.
At the checkpoint, Border Patrol found out she was undocumented, took her into custody and followed her all the way to the hospital, where they waited until she was discharged the next day.
ICE placed the girl in a children’s detention facility in San Antonio, Texas and is now in deportation proceedings.
How could this happen? Since when did the government jail sick children? This craziness is, in part, a product of the misguided priorities or lack of them in immigration enforcement by the Trump-Sessions administration. During the Obama era, the priority was placed on spending taxpayers’ resources deporting people considered criminals (individuals with DUIs, domestic violence convictions, or people with multiple deportations). But now anybody is fair game.
It means that Border Patrol is investing lots of time and resources tracking down and incarcerating a sick little girl.
The shameful situation also represents a violation of the principle that the government should prioritize human compassion over persecution in cases where people are in sensitive locations such as hospitals, where people are at their most vulnerable. Other sensitive locations include schools, colleges, churches, and courthouses.