An undocumented 10-year-old girl was intercepted by federal immigration officers in Texas as she and a family member were in an ambulance being transferred between two hospitals so that she could receive emergency gall bladder surgery.
Rosamaria Hernandez — who has cerebral palsy and was brought to the United States illegally from Mexico when she was just 3 months old — was with her cousin around 2 a.m. Tuesday traveling in an ambulance from a center in Laredo, Texas, to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint, according to her family, as reported by The New York Times.
The family says the officers allowed the ambulance to proceed, but followed it to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. When the surgery was over, they detained the girl.
In an open letter addressed to the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Elaine Duke, the advocacy group DreamActivist says Hernandez was told “she has two options; sign voluntary departure or spend up to 3 weeks in detention.”
“Families should not have to decide between getting life saving help, or being deported,” the group said in the letter.
The Times reports: “By Wednesday evening, according to family members and advocates involved in her case, immigration agents had taken her to a facility in San Antonio where migrant children who arrive alone in the United States from Central America are usually held, even though her parents, who both lack legal status, live 150 miles away in Laredo.”
Alex Galvez, a lawyer representing Hernandez, tells Newsweek that “this wouldn’t have happened during the Obama administration.”
“This current administration wants to send a clear message to all undocumented immigrants — that if you want to go to [a] hospital, you better think twice about it because you might be deported,” he told the magazine.