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10-Year-Old Girl With Cerebral Palsy, Rosa Maria Hernandez, Faces Deportation After Surgery

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Update: Rosa Maria Hernandez was released from federal custody and reunited with her family on November 3, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit seeking the young girl’s release.

A photo of a 10-year-old girl lying in a hospital bed has been shared on social media thousands of times in an attempt to save the girl pictured, Rosa Maria Hernandez, from deportation.

Hernandez, who has cerebral palsy, was taken to a hospital in Corpus Christi from Laredo, Texas via ambulance Tuesday morning for gallbladder surgery. According to The Guardian, the ambulance was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint, during which agents discovered Hernandez, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3 months old, was undocumented.

Agents then followed the ambulance 80 miles to the hospital, waiting outside Hernandez’s hospital door for the duration of her stay.

“The situation with Rosamaria Hernandez is not uncommon in South Texas or along the Texas-Mexico border. What is uncommon, is the Border Patrol or Immigration Customs Enforcement taking such an interest in a case involving a 10-year-old girl requiring immediate medical attention,” state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa told the Caller-Times. “While there is no doubt that we are a country of laws that must be followed, we are also a country with compassion. We have situations where certain discretions must be allowed to protect the rights of a human being.”

Since being discharged on Wednesday, Hernandez now faces removal proceedings. The young girl has been separated from family members who are citizens, as well as her mother, who is undocumented, and relocated to a shelter for child immigrants.

A spokesman for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told The Guardian that Hernandez will be under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services until her custody is determined by an immigration judge. No hearing has been scheduled as of yet.

Alex Galvez, a lawyer for the family, told BuzzFeed News he anticipates filing an asylum bid for Hernandez because of her cerebral palsy and the “discrimination” she would face in Mexico should she be deported.

In the meantime, DreamActivist, a social media hub for immigrant rights, is circulating a petition with the hope of keeping Hernandez in the country.

“A small child who just had surgery is not a threat to Texans’ safety or our national security,” Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro said in a statement. “(The Department of Homeland Security) should focus its resources elsewhere.”

Header image via DreamActivist on Twitter.

Originally published: October 26, 2017
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