Girl With Cerebral Palsy Faces Deportation Following Surgery
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was placed in removal proceedings immediately after being medically discharged from Driscoll Children’s Hospital on Wednesday morning.
California-based immigration attorney Alex Galvez said Rosamaria Hernandez, who lacks legal immigration status, was transported to a children’s shelter in San Antonio that can attend to her medical needs while she awaits her case to be processed.
Rosamaria was transported Tuesday morning via ambulance from Laredo to Corpus Christi for gallbladder surgery. The ambulance was escorted by Customs and Border Protection agents from an immigration checkpoint in Freer.
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Leticia Gonzalez, Galvez’s San Antonio-based associate who was in Corpus Christi on Wednesday, said she asked that federal agents release Rosamaria to family members who are U.S. citizens, but to no avail.
“Their orders are to process her,” Gonzalez said Wednesday afternoon.
Gonzalez said Rosamaria’s hospital discharge summary states she needs to visit with her family’s primary care physician in Laredo in three days for follow-up and states it’s in the child’s best interest for her to be released to family members “who are familiar with her medical and psychological needs.”
“At this point, our argument to (immigration officials) is there is a doctor’s directive, why aren’t you following it?” Gonzalez said, adding Rosamaria was initially headed to an immigration detention facility in Houston.
Customs and Border Protection spokesman Rod Kise issued a statement to the Caller-Times early Wednesday that states Rosamaria is no exception to the agency’s duty to enforce immigration law.
“Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly,” according to the statement. “The Mexican Consulate has been advised of the situation by Laredo Sector Border Patrol.”
Rosamaria’s mother, Felipa Delacruz, who also lacks legal immigration status, said federal agents waited outside her daughter’s hospital room as she recovered. Delacruz is in Laredo. Her niece, who is a U.S. citizen, accompanied Rosamaria past the checkpoint.
Galvez said the Department of Homeland Security will conduct a home study to determine if Rosamaria can be released to family. The case was flagged by the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement and will be expedited, Galvez said.
Galvez said Rosamaria’s case is strong in that she is not a flight risk — because she has a disability — and does not impose a threat to society. She also has family members who are U.S. citizens, including her grandfather, Gonzalez said.
But being apart from her mother for that two to three weeks will be a first for her.
“The child has never been apart from her mom,” Galvez said.
One area lawmaker issued a statement to the Caller-Times on the matter. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, questioned the federal immigration agency’s priorities in enforcing immigration law.
“The situation with Rosamaria Hernandez is not uncommon in South Texas or along the Texas-Mexico border. What is uncommon, is the Border Patrol or Immigration Customs Enforcement taking such an interest in a case involving a 10-year-old girl requiring immediate medical attention,” Hinojosa wrote in an email to the Caller-Times. “While there is no doubt that we are a country of laws that must be followed, we are also a country with compassion. We have situations where certain discretions must be allowed to protect the rights of a human being.”
“Border Patrol’s time would be better spent if they focused their resources on drug traffickers and human smuggling. Thank you to Driscoll Children’s Hospital for taking care of a sick child in critical need.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, also issued a statement on the matter via Twitter.
“Right now, federal agents are staking out the hospital room of a sick 10-year-old child … A small child who just had surgery is not a threat to Texans’ safety or our national security. (The Department of Homeland Security) should focus its resources elsewhere.”
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