The American Civil Liberties Union has filed charges against the Trump administration over the apprehension of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy after she was taken to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery.
Rosa Maria Hernandez was detained at a border security checkpoint near Laredo, Texas as an ambulance transported her to a hospital in Corpus Christi. Her U.S. adult cousin was with her at the time.
HuffPost reports that Border Patrol agents took Rosa Maria to the hospital following a 30-minute delay. They detained the girl the next day and took her to a refugee facility in San Antonio.
"She has been crying. She knows her mom is not there," lawyer Alex Galvez told Time following the incident.
Rosa Maria was brought to the U.S. from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, when she was 3 months old. Both of her parents are undocumented.
HuffPost reports that Rosa Maria was categorized as an unaccompanied minor by the refugee shelter, though she has lived with her parents her whole life. The ACLU argues that the shelter's classification is wrong.
Michael Tan, an ACLU attorney, wrote in a letter that Rosa Maria's detention violates a 1997 legal settlement that states minors should be placed by the government in the "least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor's age and special needs." The law also requires that minors be released from custody "without unnecessary delay."
Unaccompanied minors are usually released from government detainment as soon as a sponsor agrees to take them in, even if the minor is undocumented. In Rosa Maria's case, she has one adult cousin who is a U.S. citizen and a grandfather who is a legal permanent resident. The Office of Refugee Resettlement declined to release her to either relative, their family attorney said.
Tan said that the government has not identified Rosa Maria's family as unfit. He wrote in the ACLU's letter that she "is completely dependent on her mother” due to her medical condition, which gives her the mental capacity of a 6-year-old, and that she "needs this care, stability, routine, and support."
On Oct. 30, the ACLU threatened to sue the Trump administration if Rosa Maria wasn't released by 3 p.m. the next day, HuffPost reports. As Rosa Maria was not released, the ACLU followed through.
"There’s no reason to hold this child," said Tan. "This is probably the most outrageous case I’ve ever worked on. It’s mind-boggling."
Members of Congress have criticized the child's detainment.
"Any plans for Rosa Maria’s removal from the United States should be cancelled and any proceedings against her should be administratively closed based on humanitarian grounds," said Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro. "The Trump administration needs to focus its resources on targeting dangerous criminals, not ill children. The president’s callous immigration policies continue to reach new, inhumane lows."