The arrest of 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez at a Corpus Christi hospital has become one of the most glaring examples of the Trump administration’s ongoing war on undocumented immigrants to date. Hernandez—who was brought to the United States from Mexico by her parents as an infant in the hopes of obtaining better treatment for her diagnosed cerebral palsy—was arrested by Customs and Border Protection officials who waited patiently to nab the young girl immediately after she underwent emergency gallbladder surgery.
But if the cruelty of detaining a ten-year-old with a congenital disorder as she recovers from an operation isn’t appalling enough, a new report claims Hernandez is now being treated as if her family doesn’t exist.
According to the New York Times, Hernandez has been placed in a San Antonio-area detention facility typically used to house unaccompanied minors who cross into the United States without documentation. Hernandez, however, has been living with her parents—both undocumented—in Laredo, TX, just 150 miles away.
Per the Times:
The federal government maintains detention centers for adult immigrants it plans to deport, facilities for families who arrive at the border together and shelters for children who come by themselves, known as unaccompanied minors. But it is rare, if not unheard-of, for a child already living in the United States to be arrested — particularly one with a serious medical condition.
I have reached out to Customs and Border Protection to learn why they allegedly placed Hernandez in a facility away from her primary caregivers, and will update this story with their response.
Speaking with the San Antonio Express News, Hernandez’s cousin, Aurora Cantu, confirmed that despite Hernandez’s medical condition, CBP agents had planned to either see the girl subjected to an extended period of detention or removed from the United States altogether.
“They told me that my aunt (Hernandez’s mother) had two options,” Cantu said. “The first option was we could take her back to Mexico and arrange for a family member to get her. If my aunt didn’t want to do that, the second option was that she could spend several weeks in a detention center.”
An attorney representing Hernandez’s family has already petitioned CBP to release her back into her parents’ care, the Times reported. Laredo-area congressman Henry Cuellar has also condemned the detention.
“I understand that C.B.P. has a tremendous duty to protect our nation,” Rep. Cuellar said in a statement to the Times. “But we should be devoting our resources and focus on bigger threats.”