10-Year-Old Girl Is Detained By Border Patrol After Emergency Surgery : The Two-Way Rosa Maria Hernandez, who came illegally to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3 months old, was being transferred between hospitals in Texas when the ambulance was stopped by federal officers.
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10-Year-Old Girl Is Detained By Border Patrol After Emergency Surgery

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10-Year-Old Girl Is Detained By Border Patrol After Emergency Surgery

10-Year-Old Girl Is Detained By Border Patrol After Emergency Surgery

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/560149316/560276817" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Immigration officials have detained a 10-year-old girl after she had an emergency operation this week at a children's hospital in Texas. The child is being held in a government-run juvenile center, and she faces deportation. NPR's John Burnett reports the case is sparking outrage.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Rosamaria Hernandez has cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities and recurring medical problems. She lives with her parents in Laredo, Texas. All three are from Mexico and undocumented. On Tuesday, they faced an agonizing predicament. Doctors wanted to send Rosamaria to Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi for an emergency gallbladder operation. But the only way to get there is past a Border Patrol checkpoint, so the parents opted not to go. Instead, they sent an adult cousin, who's a U.S. citizen, in the ambulance with their daughter.

At the checkpoint, Border Patrol agents discovered Rosamaria is in the country illegally, so they followed the ambulance on to the hospital. According to the family's lawyer, the agents insisted the door to her hospital room be kept open at all times to keep an eye on her. On Wednesday, the hospital discharged Rosamaria. The lawyer, Leticia Gonzalez, reading the discharge papers, said doctors recommended the child be released to, quote, "a family member who is familiar with her medical and psychological needs." But agents decided to transport her to a government-contracted juvenile shelter in San Antonio.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FELIPA DE LA CRUZ: (Speaking Spanish).

BURNETT: "It's difficult when I start to think about her," said her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, on a conference call from Laredo. "I become sad and desperate." The lawyer who visited Rosamaria describes her mental state as confused. Daniel Hetlage, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, says throughout the two-day incident, agents were just enforcing federal immigration law. It's frustrating for us, he said. I'm a human being. The agents are trying to do their job as humanely as possible. Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, condemned the agent's actions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOAQUIN CASTRO: This apprehension occurred despite the fact that the sensitive locations policy is still in effect. And remember; they were staked outside her hospital room.

BURNETT: More than a hundred Democrats in Congress have demanded the Department of Homeland Security rein in agents who are making more and more arrests at or near hospitals, churches and schools. Officers are discouraged from conducting enforcement actions at these so-called sensitive locations unless the arrest is related to national security, terrorism or public safety. The CBP spokesman insists they apprehended Rosamaria Hernandez at the checkpoint, which is not a sensitive location. John Burnett, NPR News.

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