Rosa Maria Hernandez is a 10-year-old girl who has been living with her parents in Laredo, Texas as undocumented immigrants. On October 24, 2017, Border Patrol detained Rosa Maria, and held her in a shelter for unaccompanied minors in San Antonio. Rosa Maria underwent an emergency surgery on October 24 at Driscoll Children’s Hospital for her cerebral palsy and yet immediately after was sought to be detained by border patrol officers, even against the advice of her doctor.
Her cousin, Aurora Cantu, said the agents tried to get papers signed for Rosa Maria to go to a hospital in Mexico instead but this was refused.
Rosa Maria’s mother, Felipa de la Cruz, said to The New York Times, “I’m a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed. It never crossed my mind that any of what is happening right now could happen. When you’re a mother, all you care about is your child.”
Mrs. De la Cruz says her family could not afford the necessary medical treatment needed for Rosa Maria’s condition in Mexico. In the U.S. she receives medical funding from Medicaid, with therapist home visits.
Statements made by members of the ACLU as well as Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro confirm her release.
On the way to the hospital, her emergency vehicle was stopped and checked for identification at a checkpoint. Despite it being clarified by her cousin, Aurora Cantu, that a ten-year-old does not carry identification, Customs and Border Protection followed her to the hospital and said that after Rosa Maria had undergone her surgery, she would be detained.
As she went into surgery, armed agents stood and waited outside her door. Once the surgery was over, while still laying in her bed, the agents arrested Rosa Maria.
On October 31, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the government to release Rosa Maria.
This gruesome story has garnered a large outcry. Twitter trended #freerosa, allowing users to express their dismay at the brutality and stay updated on Rosa Maria’s detainment.
In a statement on Friday, Michael Tan, ACLU lawyer, said,
“Rosa Maria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family’s love and support. 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.”
Andre Segura, legal director of ACLU Texas, said, “Rosa Maria should not have been detained for even a second. She was ripped from her family without authority by the federal government. We will continue to challenge the government to stop this kind of heartless and unlawful conduct.”
A significant part of Donald Trump’s campaign to be president were immigration bans and the deportation of undocumented immigrants. While those who voted him to the presidency saw these ideas as essential to a utopian society of safety, they seemed to have forgotten that hate and discrimination are not morally just. Borders do not stop for a child. Rosa Maria’s story is just one tragic example of a future that will continue to exist under the dangers of the Trump Administration.