Rosa Maria Hernandez … you are likely to hear that name a lot in the coming days, for she is, at age ten, one of Donald Trump’s “bad hombres”.
Rosa Maria came to the U.S. when she was three months old and her family settled in Laredo, Texas. She had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and her parents brought her to the U.S. seeking treatment for her condition. Rosa Maria has the mental capacity of a child half her age. Last Tuesday, Rosa Maria was in a great deal of pain and was ultimately diagnosed with a diseased gall bladder that would require emergency surgery. However, the hospital in Laredo was not equipped to do the surgery on such a young special needs child, and she was sent by ambulance to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christie, Texas.
Along the way, the ambulance had to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint. I am unclear why there is such a checkpoint between two U.S. cities, but I will table that query for another day. At the checkpoint, it was determined that 10-year-old Rosa Maria did not have proper immigration papers and would be detained. Ultimately, officials allowed the ambulance to proceed in light of Rosa’s life-threatening condition, but they ‘escorted’ the ambulance to the hospital. They followed the ambulance, then stood outside the door while doctors performed the surgery. Even during her recovery period, four agents remained on guard outside her door, and visitors, even doctors, were not allowed to close the door. The door was closed only once, when the family’s attorney, Leticia Gonzales, demanded attorney-client privilege. Can somebody explain to me why it takes four full-grown adults to guard one small, 10-year-old girl?
The next day, Wednesday, doctors cleared Rosa Maria for release from the hospital, and authorities immediately took her into federal custody. Imagine for a moment the terror this little girl must have felt. Removed from her family, having just undergone a painful surgery, mentally incapable of understanding what was going on, why she was being taken from her family by a group of strangers to … who knew where? When she stepped out of her room and saw the sea of unfamiliar faces … federal agents and lawyers … she tried to turn around and go back into the hospital room.
Rosa Maria was taken from the hospital to a children’s shelter in San Antonio, which typically holds children who come across the border alone from Central America — not children who’ve been in the United States for several years. Rosa Maria’s grandfather and cousin, both legal residents, begged to be allowed to take Rosa Maria into their homes, but the requests were denied.
Rosa Maria’s mother, Felipa De La Cruz, has not been allowed to visit her daughter, but was allowed to have a brief video chat on Thursday. “I told her she was only there because she was recovering and when she was recovered that she could come with me.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the discretion to release Rosa Maria at any time, but have chosen not to do so. What will happen to Rosa Maria next is anybody’s guess, but I contend that this is cruel and inhumane treatment of a child who has committed no crime and is living in terror, not able to understand what is happening to her.
Has this nation become so insecure, so afraid of everyone and everything that we are now willing to stand by and watch small, special needs children taken from their families for absolutely no reason? Is this what this nation has become … a nation without a heart, without compassion, an inhumane nation? For if it is, if we do not stand up and speak for the human rights of young Rosa Maria Hernandez, then I contend that this nation is not going to hell … it is already there.