10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was detained yesterday after it was discovered that she was an undocumented immigrant.
The Texas-based girl was undergoing emergency gallbladder surgery, where US border agents inappropriately waited outside her hospital room.
Unfortunately, the agents did not simply "escort" Hernandez; rather, they followed her every move within the hospital.
Leticia Gonzalez, the girl's attorney, said the agents went inside the hospital, waited outside her room, and even followed her when tests and the surgery were going on.
The family also added that the ambulance she was being transported in was stopped and followed the rest of the way to the hospital.
The Customs and Border Protection agency learned of Hernandez's undocumented status when she and a cousin were traveling.
The young girl was transferring from a hospital in Laredo, Texas to one in Corpus Christi. The agents then “escorted her and her cousin to a Corpus Christi hospital where she could receive appropriate medical care."
Though she was released on Wednesday after her surgery, the 10-year-old is unable to return home to recover.
Hernandez was brought to San Antonio after the surgery, where she's being held by the government, which could continue for "weeks or months," according to her attorney.
Hernandez came here when she was just 3 years old. Her mother is also undocumented.
The girl's grandfather and cousin, however, are both permanent residents and offered to sponsor her, but officials refused to let it happen.
Instead, the young girl is both scared and confused at the situation she's left in.
“It’s stunning that federal agents would be waiting outside the hospital room of a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy," Rep. Joaquin Castro stated. “They’re treating her like a hardened convict who has been taken to the hospital for treatment.”
“The fact that they spent so much time and resources to follow this girl, to treat her like she was the highest-priority criminal that ever walked on this earth — the way they’re treating her is just beyond what a 10-year-old special needs child should be treated," Priscila Martinez, an immigration activist at the Workers Defense Action Fund, added.
Hernandez's situation is not a common one.
The government holds individuals who they are planning to deport or unaccompanied minors who first come to the US. They rarely, however, detain a child living in the country for a long period of time – especially one with a serious medical condition such as Hernandez's.
In response, the agency said, “The Laredo Sector Border Patrol is committed to enforcing the immigration laws of this nation... Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly."
Investigators are still considering the young girl's case, which will determine if she can go back home to her family or be deported to Mexico.
"I don't want them to deport her. Mexico isn't safe and she needs therapy and her doctors," her mom said.