Editors' pickPolitics

Government officials have repeatedly blocked detained 10-year-old child from accessing post-op care

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tells Broadly that government officials have now twice blocked 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez from two follow-up medical visits with her primary doctor and surgeon following her emergency gallbladder surgery last week. Rosamaria’s doctors recommended that she be discharged to relatives and allowed to recover at home after the procedure, but Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents ignored the advice of medical professionals and have instead kept the girl, who has cerebral palsy, locked up in a Texas detention center for unaccompanied minors. The child’s “doctors, lawyers, and family have maintained that her health and safety are in danger at the facility where she’s been detained … the government has yet to comply with multiple requests for the child’s release”:

When Rosa was discharged, Border Patrol officers violated doctor’s orders to return the child to her family and instead took her to a child housing facility in San Antonio operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. According to the Hernandez family attorney Leticia Gonzalez, Rosa’s discharge papers read: “Rosa Hernandez is a post-operative patient with cerebral palsy and developmental delay. In the best interest of the patient, it is recommended that the patient be discharged to a family member that is familiar with her medical and psychological needs.” Gonzalez said the discharge papers also directed Rosa Maria to “follow up with her primary care doctor within three days [of surgery] and then return to Dr. Haroon Patel [the child’s surgeon] in Laredo on November 2, 2017.”

Earlier this week, the ACLU sued for Rosamaria’s release, stating that “the government’s actions are unlawful, cruel, and threaten to keep parents with sick children from seeking care.” Broadly attempted to reach Rosamaria’s medical team for comment, but they declined, citing patient confidentiality. Broadly did note that Dr. Patel’s now-deleted Twitter account suggested “he is frustrated with the government’s treatment of Rosamaria. On October 25, he retweeted the ACLU’s tweet calling Border Patrol’s treatment of the child, ‘outrageous and cruel, to both her and all who will now fear seeking medical attention.’” What’s also outrageous and cruel is that both of Texas’s U.S. senators have failed to make even one public comment regarding this child’s detention.

On Wednesday, Rosamaria’s advocates staged a protest in front of Sen. John Cornyn’s office, calling on him to “not ignore a fellow Texan who is suffering.” Immigration reporter Elise Foley tweeted she “asked both offices for comment on Tuesday. No reply.” By that time, Rosamaria had already been in detention for nearly a week. A quick scan of Sen. Ted Cruz’s Twitter account shows he’s sent or retweeted nearly two dozen tweets about the World Series since November 1, but none about Rosamaria. But that’s the kind of soulless duplicity you’d expect from a disgrace who told people to vote their conscience and then pulled the lever anyway for a white supremacist who insulted his wife and accused his dad of killing President Kennedy.

But don’t forget why Rosamaria has been detained in the first place: the federal immigration agents who stalked her. ”CBP decided this 10-year-old girl was a threat to the United States of America and decided to follow her all the way to the hospital and take her after her surgery,” said United We Dream activist Daniel Candelaria at the Cornyn protest earlier this week. “This is shameful. This is inhumane. This is downright hateful. The agents of ICE and CBP are showing their true colors, of being agents of hate and being agents of xenophobia, being agents of the mass deportation agenda of this administration.”

Let’s finally do away with this notion that federal immigration agents give a damn about public safety. If that were true, their resources—our tax dollars—would instead be spent taking actual “bad hombres” off our streets, not torturing a 10-year-old girl on her sickbed. And as a nation, we should be collectively ashamed of what’s being done in our name. “Immigration authorities say they were just doing their job,” stated an editorial from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. “But placing a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who has lived in this country all but the first three months of her life in detention, separating her from her family, and starting removal proceedings on her is a dirty job. No one, really, has to do it.”

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