Undocumented 10-Year-Old Girl With Cerebral Palsy Released From Custody

On Friday, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who was detained by immigration officials after a surgery was released from custody. 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that Rosa Maria Hernandez was returned to her family on Friday. “Rosa Maria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family’s love and support,” Michael Tan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “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.”

On October 24, Hernandez was scheduled for a gall bladder operation at a hospital in Corpus Christi. Since her mother was undocumented, she asked her cousin, who is a U.S. citizen, to accompany the child because she feared being detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint in route to the hospital. Unfortunately, at the checkpoint officers discovered that the 10-year-old was undocumented. Border agents reportedly followed the ambulance to the hospital and waited outside Hernandez room until she was dispatched following her surgery. The officers then took the child into custody at a facility for unaccompanied immigrant minors, as reported by the AP

“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,” Andre Segura, the legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said.

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However, Gabriel Acosta, assistant chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol where the ambulance was screened, argued otherwise, saying that his agents “acted professionally and compassionately to get this child the medical attention she needed.”