Child With Cerebral Palsy Detained by Border Agents After Surgery Reunited With Family
SAN ANTONIO — The federal government has released 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez. The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit seeking to release her from government custody and reunite her with her family.
“Rosa Maria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family's love and support,” said Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Despite our relief, Border Patrol’s decision to target a young girl at a children’s hospital remains unconscionable. No child should go through this trauma and we are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Rosa Maria, who has cerebral palsy, was en route to gallbladder surgery from her home in Laredo, Texas, to Corpus Christi, when she was stopped at an immigration checkpoint. U.S. Border Patrol followed her to the hospital and camped outside her room until she was discharged. Agents then immediately seized Rosa Maria — who was still recovering in her hospital bed — and jailed her 150 miles away in a facility for children, alone and without her parents. They had no warrant. Rosa Maria had never been separated from her parents, and her medical condition requires constant attention. She has lived in her parents’ care in the United States since she was 3 months old.
Rosa Maria was being held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, in violation of her statutory and constitutional rights. The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Texas filed a lawsuit October 31 seeking Rosa Maria's release to her family. Alina Das of the New York University School of Law and Ranjana Natarajan of the University of Texas School of Law are co-counsel. The Office of Refugee Resettlement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were among the named defendants.
“Rosa Maria should not have been detained for even a second. She was ripped from her family without authority by the federal government. We will continue to challenge the government to stop this kind of heartless and unlawful conduct,” said Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas.