The U.S. government has finally released from custody 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez, a child with cerebral palsy who was detained by immigration officials after an emergency gallbladder surgery in Laredo, TX.
“Rosa Maria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family’s love and support,” said Michael Tan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “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.”
Rosa Maria was en route to a hospital in Laredo from her family’s home in Corpus Christi in late October when she and a family member accompanying her were stopped at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. The girl’s mother is undocumented, and Rosa Maria was brought to the U.S. from Mexico in 2007, when she was just 3 months old.
She was taken to the hospital by a cousin, who is a U.S. citizen and was authorized by Rosa Maria’s mother, Felipa de la Cruz, to accompany her to obtain emergency care.
Border Patrol officials reportedly escorted Rosa Maria to the hospital, camped out at her hospital room, and waited for her to be discharged in order to take her into custody on Oct. 25. She was taken to an immigration shelter for unaccompanied minors in San Antonio, about 150 miles from her home. That prompted the ACLU’s lawsuit and sparked public outrage, including from many state and federal lawmakers.
In its lawsuit, the ACLU argued that the government violated federal law regarding unaccompanied minors and endangered Rosa Maria’s health by not sending her home, the Associated Press reported.
According to Tan, Rosa Maria has the cognitive capacity of a 6-year-old and has never been separated from her family, her primary care providers. He added that Rosa Maria is “profoundly traumatized” from the ordeal, The Washington Post reported.
While she is safe at home for now, Rosa Maria’s horrifyingly cruel ordeal might not be over. Lawyers representing the family said she has been served with a notice that she could still face deportation proceedings, although nothing has been filed yet in immigration court, the Post reported.