Trump's immigration policies are affecting millions — down to the smallest. In a horrifying series of events, Border Patrol detained a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy after she had emergency surgery on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in South Texas. Now, she faces the possibility of deportation.
According to a New York Times report, agents followed Rosamaria Hernandez to the hospital after her ambulance was stopped at a checkpoint, and waited outside of her room to detain her after her operation. Hernandez was en route from Laredo to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi for an emergency gallbladder surgery when the vehicle was stopped at 2 a.m. She was accompanied by a cousin who is a U.S. citizen so that they could go through the checkpoints, according to the Associated Press.
When she was released, Hernandez was detained by herself at a San Antonio facility that typically holds children who come to the country alone. She's 150 miles away from her parents, and could face deportation, a family lawyer told the Associated Press.
“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," Felipa de la Cruz, Hernandez's mother, told the Times in an interview.
In a statement to the AP, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said they were "committed to enforcing the immigration laws of this nation" and that "once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly."
Hernandez could, however, be at the facility for weeks. "They just refused to allow the child to go home," Leticia Gonzalez, the family's attorney, told the AP.
It's unclear how detaining a sick 10-year-old will make America safer.
Hernandez was brought to the U.S. when she was three months old by her parents, who don't have legal status, to access medical care for her cerebral palsy. The family's lawyer told the AP that Hernandez is developmentally at the age of a four or five-year-old, so she doesn't understand what's taking place,
Hernandez's detainment comes a month after the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed those brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 to apply for temporary protection from deportation. The White House said earlier in October that it did not intend on creating a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, Politico reported.
Over the past year, President Donald Trump has pressed for the construction of a border wall, though it's unclear that it will come to fruition. In September, he reportedly struck a deal with top Democrats to nix the wall in favor of more border security. However, Republicans have contested that there was a deal. And, if there was, Trump hasn't exactly made good on it.
Throughout the campaign and during his presidency, Trump has energized his base by emphasizing crimes committed by immigrants without legal status. While Trump has highlighted the victims, immigrants without legal status are actually far less crime-prone than citizens, according to research from the Cato Insitute. Many on Twitter asked how Hernandez's detainment aligned with the president's harsh line on undocumented immigrants.
In the first nine months of his term, immigration arrests increased by 40 percent, according to data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement obtained by the Times. What's more, many of them have committed no crime except for being undocumented. Arrests of undocumented immigrants who don't have criminal records have increased by a whopping 150 percent under Trump, according to a report in NBC News.
While the federal government has detained minors who were suspected of being gang members, Hernandez's case is getting attention because of her age, health and circumstances. But, she's hardly the first child with a medical emergency to face such a situation. In September, agents followed another family without legal status to the same hospital where Hernandez received care when their baby needed surgery.
So Hernandez, a child with medical needs who's alone and hours away from her family, will sadly likely not be the last in this situation.