On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against members of the Trump administration over the recent arrest of Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy who was detained immediately following emergency gallbladder surgery in Laredo, TX.
“It is unconscionable to target a little girl in a children’s hospital,” ACLU attorney Michael Tan said in a press release. “Hospitals are considered sensitive locations under Homeland Security’s own policy, and Border Patrol should not be arresting people there — especially children. The government’s actions are unlawful, cruel, and threaten to keep parents with sick children from seeking care. It is also unconstitutional to deprive a child of the love and care her parents have provided her entire life.”
Hernandez is currently being held in in a detention facility run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, despite her parents—both undocumented themselves—living within the state.
In a letter sent Monday notifying the named defendants—including DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke—of the impending lawsuit, the ACLU explained that Rosa’s condition made the circumstance of both her arrest and detention particularly abhorrent:
Rosa Maria has never been separated from her parents before. Her medical condition requires constant attention, and she is completely dependent on her mother. At home, Rosa Maria attends elementary school five days a week, where she receives special-education classes, frequent therapy sessions, and other services. Most importantly, at home Rosa Maria receives the care of her mother, who has ensured that she has the support and home-based therapy she needs to thrive. Every night, Rosa Maria plays outside with her sisters, and her mother creates games to help improve her strength, using play-based therapy techniques that therapists have taught her since Rosa Maria was first diagnosed. Rosa Maria needs this care, stability, routine, and support.
Without the network of support from her family and community, the ACLU argued, Rosa’s “developmental progress will suffer.”
The suit, filed in the federal district court in San Antonio, TX, demands that she be released immediately into her family’s custody.