ACLU sues on behalf of undocumented 10-year-old detained after surgery

By Daniel Uria

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to challenge the detention of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy taken into custody after she had surgery in Texas.

The ACLU suit, filed Tuesday, seeks the release of Rosa Maria Hernandez, who was detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement after undergoing gallbladder surgery 150 miles from her home in Laredo, Texas.


Hernandez, was traveling to Driscoll Children's Hospital for the surgery with her 34-year-old cousin and U.S. citizen, Aurora Cantu, when Customs and Border Protection stopped her medical transport vehicle at a checkpoint in Freer, Texas.

Cantu explained Hernandez needed an operation and that the 10-year-old doesn't carry ID, when Border Patrol agents said they would follow the pair to the hospital and begin to process her for deportation following the surgery.

Agents seized Hernandez while she was still recovering in her hospital bed and jailed her in a facility for children without parents.

Hernandez has lived in her parents' care in the United States since she was 3 months old and is completely dependent on her mother due to her medical condition, KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, reported.


The ACLU said that by arresting Rosa Maria and refusing to reunite her with her family, CBP and ORR have inflected cruel and unnecessary trauma on her in addition to breaking multiple laws and violating the Constitution.

"It is unconscionable to target a little girl in a children's hospital," Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said. "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."

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