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ACLU sues for release of 10-year-old Rosa Maria

Rosa Maria Hernandez, age 10, has cerebral palsy and was being taken to a hospital for gall bladder surgery when her ambulance was stopped by Border Patrol agents on Oct. 24. When the agents could not verify that Rosa Maria had authorization to be in the U.S., the agents followed the ambulance to the hospital and told her family that she would be processed for deportation following her surgery.

The day after her surgery, Rosa Maria was taken from the hospital by Border Patrol agents despite her pain. Although her mother was available, the agents labeled her as an unaccompanied minor and placed her in a home for orphaned and migrant children. 

A legal demand for her release

Rather than returning the young, sick girl to her parents to await a removal hearing, the agents decided to deliver her into detention at a location over 150 miles from her home. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is demanding her immediate release, so Rosa Maria can be cared for by her parents. This is her first time away from her family.

Excuses, excuses

A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) claims that the agents had no choice but to arrest Rosa Maria once they had stopped her ambulance and failed to find sufficient paperwork. This is despite recent guidance from the Department of Homeland Security that allows agents to consider each situation on a case-by-case basis.

The lawsuit claims that the agents should have obtained written permission from a senior CPB official before taking the girl into custody. It also claims that the Border Patrol is prohibited from detaining minors who are facing deportation, stating that a number of immigration laws forbid this type of behavior.

Despite national attention to the case and protests in San Antonio, the government appears to be moving forward with its deportation efforts. Rosa Maria continues to be held in a detention facility despite having a major medical condition that requires constant care.

If you have experienced any similar actions by the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or any government agency, you have rights that should not be ignored. Legal help is available.

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