Immigrant rights activists from United We Dream, Texas Organizing Project, and other community leaders protested outside the office of Texas Sen. John Cornyn today, calling on him to advocate for the release of 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez, who was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Texas last week following emergency gallbladder surgery.
“We are here because Rosa’s case is an exposure of Trump’s cruelty and Trump’s inhumane regard of our community,” said an organizer with Texas Organizing Project. “This 10-year-old girl, who is no threat to security, is away from her parents at a crucial time. This is not okay. So we are here outside Senator Cornyn’s office, asking him to stand with our community to do the right thing and to not ignore a fellow Texan who is, right now, suffering. She needs to be with her family.”
Ten-year-old Rosamaria, who has cerebral palsy, has been in a detention center for unaccompanied minors for a week now, and for a week both Cornyn and junior Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have refused to publicly comment on federal immigration agents sweeping up a special needs child who should have been recovering in a hospital bed, not a cold facility. In a case as morally reprehensible as this, their silence can only be taken as complicity.
As numerous immigrant rights advocates have noted, Rosamaria has family in the state, including her parents and a U.S. citizen cousin, that she could easily be released to. But for a week, federal immigration officials have refused. “Rosamaria’s doctors have recommended that she be released to a relative because of her illness,” reported the New York Times last week, “but the immigration agency has not yet consented to release her.”
Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), CBP, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saying that “hospitals are considered sensitive locations under Homeland Security’s own policy, and the Border Patrol should not be arresting people there—especially children. The government’s actions are unlawful, cruel, and threaten to keep parents with sick children from seeking care.”
”CBP decided this 10-year-old girl was a threat to the United States of America and decided to follow her all the way to the hospital and take her after her surgery,” said United We Dream activist Daniel Candelaria. “This is shameful. This is inhumane. This is downright hateful. The agents of ICE and CBP are showing their true colors, of being agents of hate and being agents of xenophobia, being agents of the mass deportation agenda of this administration, here in Austin … and in Washington, D.C.”
Cornyn wields immense power as Texas’s senior senator, yet there’s no indication he’s so much as even made one phone call advocating for Rosamaria’s release. For those with conscience, the ACLU has created a tool for advocates to contact federal officials over CBP’s disgraceful action and to demand this little girl be able to go home to her family. Click here to make a call and help free Rosa.