IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS outdid themselves this week when they took into custody a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who had just undergone emergency surgery. Is this what President Trump had in mind when he promised that federal enforcement resources would be focused on the “bad hombres”?
Rosa Maria Hernandez, whose developmental delays put her on a mental par with a 4- or 5-year-old, faces deportation in a case that calls into question the judgment — not to mention humanity — of federal agents. It also should prompt reassessment of the change in policy from that of the Obama administration, which focused enforcement on recent arrivals and those with serious criminal records, to one in which anyone — anywhere — apparently is fair game.
The girl, brought across the Mexican border to Laredo, Tex., when she was 3 months old, was being transferred from a medical center in Laredo to a hospital in Corpus Christi at 2 a.m. Tuesday when the ambulance was stopped at a Border Patrol interior checkpoint. Agents allowed the girl and the adult cousin who accompanied her to proceed to the hospital for the child’s gallbladder surgery. But several armed Border Patrol agents, according to the girl’s family, were posted outside the operating room and then her hospital room until she was transferred to a federal facility for migrant children. Keep in mind that this is a frightened child who has never been away from her family, that her doctor recommended discharge to a family member familiar with her condition, and that her cousin and grandfather, both legal residents, offered to take care of her.
Let’s hope the public dismay at these events prompts someone in authority to come to their senses. The little girl should be released immediately to family members, and compassion shown in dealing with her case. Her parents brought her to this country as an infant in search of better treatment for her cerebral palsy. They weren’t with her in the ambulance because they both lack legal status and feared crossing the checkpoint. It’s unusual for federal agents to detain a child already living in the United States. Who could have possibly imagined that a 10-year-old with disabilities being rushed to a hospital would be the target of federal enforcement? The harm done extends beyond Rosa Maria and her family to other parents who now will have to think about the risk of detention and deportation in deciding whether to seek medical treatment for their children.
Is this really the image the Border Patrol wants for itself? Is this the image we Americans want for ourselves?
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