When one thinks of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency, one likely thinks of officers seizing hundreds of dollars worth of illegal drugs and other substances. Another image is that of men and women stopping illegal immigrants from entering the country.
A 10-year-old with cerebral palsy being detained after an emergency gallbladder surgery is probably not what comes to mind.
Rosamaria Hernandez, the child in question, was detained by Border Patrol agents after her surgery. She had been brought over the border illegally as an infant to Texas because her parents could not afford to pay for her therapy in Mexico.
With Medicaid, they were able to pay for her therapy while living in Laredo, Texas. But when she needed to be transported to a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, north of the Rio Grande valley border control checkpoints, she had to go with her cousin instead of her parents.
Even so, the ambulance was stopped, and according to Hernandez’s cousin and agents working on her case, the Border Patrol agents at first tried to persuade the family to seek treatment in a Mexican hospital.
They pressed the family to sign a voluntary departure form for her, which they declined. Eventually, the ambulance was allowed to continue, but the agents followed all the way to Corpus Christi, and then stood, armed, outside her hospital room until she had recovered from her surgery.
Once she recovered, they transferred her to a detention center, which according to The New York Times, is maintained for “adult immigrants it plans to deport, facilities for families who arrive at the border together and shelters for children who come by themselves, known as unaccompanied minors.”
Still, it is rare, if not unheard-of, for a child already living in the United States to be detained.
Hernandez’s parents lack legal status and live 150 miles away in Laredo. According to a San Antonio-based lawyer working with Hernandez’s family, “Rosamaria’s doctors have recommended that she be released to a relative because of her illness.”
The Border Patrol’s job is an important one, and although illegally immigrating to America may not have been the best decision for this family, the fact that they are detaining a 10-year-old is ridiculous.
The chances of a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy being a threat to national security is incredibly slim. In the past, teenagers have been detained for being members of various gangs, but it is highly unlikely that this is the case here..
The U.S. Border Patrol’s resources could be used somewhere far more useful, stopping actual criminals from crossing the border, but instead they are holding a 10-year-old girl in a detention center and treating Hernandez as though she is a high-priority criminal.
This is not making America safer, and it is definitely not making America “great” again.
All this has done is show the ugly underbelly of American culture to those who are not white and who have crossed the border illegally.
Rosamaria is just a girl who wants to live her life. It is likely she does not even remember Mexico. She should be released to a relative, at the very least, and not held in a detention center 150 miles from her home.
We are a country that prides itself on the American dream, the belief that people can come here and start a new life; that people can come here and have more opportunities.
Rosamaria’s circumstance is one such example, where her parents are finally able to receive the help they need to allow Rosamaria’s therapies to continue.
We should not be stifling this dream, or sending it away. We should be cultivating it, and diversifying a country that proclaims itself settled by people of every creed.
Nothing can be achieved if we shut our hearts and doors to those who need help, or to those who are not white, rich Americans.