Texas girl, 10, with cerebral palsy faces deportation after trip to hospital


Rosa Maria Hernandez was already frightened when she sat in an ambulance Tuesday night speeding toward a Texas hospital so that she could undergo emergency gall bladder surgery, according to her family's attorney.

They sent Rosa Maria with a cousin to the hospital because the cousin is a U.S. citizen and could pass through the checkpoint.

In response to intense criticism over a decision to put a girl from Mexico with special needs in deportation proceedings and transfer her to a child care facility in San Antonio, a Border Patrol official said Thursday that agents' hands were tied when they encountered Rosa Maria Hernandez this week at an immigration checkpoint near Freer.

Gonzalez said Rosa Maria has "difficulty understanding exactly what's taking place" and is closer in development to a child that's 4 or 5 years old.

Several border agents waited outside Hernandez's hospital room while she recovered for a few hours from surgery on Tuesday before driving her to be detained at a federal shelter in San Antonio, Texas, the family's lawyer, who was at the hospital, said.

BuzzFeed News has previously reported that Border Patrol checkpoints make undocumented immigrants feel trapped because they can't cross them without risking being stopped, arrested, and deported.

Rosa Maria left hospital in an ambulance on Wednesday, said her attorney, Leticia Gonzalez.

When agents discovered that Hernandez was undocumented, at the checkpoint en route to the hospital, they allowed her to continue on, but followed her and her family member the rest of the way.

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In a statement, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed its agents had escorted Rosa Maria from a checkpoint to the hospital.

'What is uncommon, is the Border Patrol or Immigration Customs Enforcement taking such an interest in a case involving a 10-year-old girl requiring immediate medical attention. "Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared [Rosa Maria] will be processed accordingly".

Her parents are both in the United States illegally and came with Rosa Maria to the U.S. in 2007, when the girl was a newborn, in part to seek better medical treatment for her cerebral palsy.

"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", the statement continued.

"I'm a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed", Felipa de la Cruz, the girl's mother, told the Times.

Rosamaria's detention however comes amid a crackdown by the Trump administration that has seen immigration-related arrests rise by more than 40 percent compared to the same period past year.

Hernandez has lived in Laredo since being brought by her parents from Mexico to the United States illegally as a baby.

Ms de la Cruz said in Mexico she was unable to afford her daughter's medical expenses. She was later released and a court granted a stay of deportation last month.