Rosamaria Hernandez, the 10-year-old special needs child explicably targeted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and taken into custody following emergency gallbladder surgery, was released earlier today after more than a week in detention:
“We’re just thrilled — it’s such a relief,” said one of her lawyers, Michael Tan, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s actually quite overwhelming. This was the first time in her life she was separated from her family.”
Of the next step in her case, he added, “There’s really no reason to be targeting Rosa Maria for deportation,” given her age and condition.
“Finally, Rosa Maria has been released to her family where she belongs,” Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat who represents the San Antonio area, said in a statement on Friday evening. “This young girl and her loved ones have been through a traumatizing ordeal.”
He added: “The United
should not be a place where children seeking life-sustaining medical care are at risk of apprehension.”
“Rosamaria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family’s love and support,” the ACLU continued. “Despite our relief, Border Patrol’s decision to target a young girl at a children’s hospital remains unconscionable. No child should go through this trauma and we are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
As the ACLU noted, Rosamaria should never have been targeted by Border Patrol in the first place, and there are many questions the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must answer in the coming days, and officials must be held accountable. Why was Rosamaria targeted? Why did officials ignore medical professionals who said Rosamaria should be with family? Why was she denied post-operative care?
For now, the most important thing is that Rosamaria is home, thanks to her advocates and all those who spoke out on her behalf.