A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is at risk of deportation after being stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint and accompanied to hospital by officers who waited outside her room as she recovered from surgery.
Rosa María Hernández was born in Mexico but has lived in the US since she was three months old. She was being taken from the Texas border city of Laredo to Corpus Christi for a gallbladder operation, travelling in an ambulance with a relative who is a US citizen.
As they drove through an inland Border Patrol station about 60 miles east of the frontier in the early hours of Tuesday, agents discovered Rosa María’s undocumented status.
The agents allowed them to continue but followed them to the hospital, another 80 miles.
Her mother, who is undocumented and in Laredo, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that officers waited outside her daughter’s room while she recuperated from the operation on Tuesday.
Rosa María left hospital in an ambulance on Wednesday, said her attorney, Leticia Gonzalez. Mohammad Abdollahi, an organiser with DreamActivist, an immigrant rights group, said that Border Patrol agents took her to a shelter for child immigrants in San Antonio that has a contract with the federal government.
A spokesman for Henry Cuellar, a Democratic US congressman who represents Laredo and is tracking the case, said that Rosa María would be under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Health and Human Services until a custody determination has been made by an immigration judge. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.
It was not immediately clear whether she would be returned to her mother’s care or taken to a government-run shelter for immigrant children.
A Border Patrol spokesman said in a statement: “The Laredo Sector Border Patrol is committed to enforcing the immigration laws of this nation. Travelers that present themselves for immigration inspections at our checkpoints are inspected thoroughly and expeditiously …
“Due to the juvenile’s medical condition, Border Patrol agents escorted her and her cousin to a Corpus Christi hospital where she could receive appropriate medical care. Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly.”