Federal Judge Denies Release of 10-Year-Old Immigrant from San Antonio Shelter

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Ten-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez, who has been held by federal immigration agents at a shelter for undocumented children since the day after her emergency gallbladder surgery, will remain there after a federal judge rejected an emergency motion for her release.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery cancelled an upcoming court hearing for Rosa Maria’s immediate release, rejecting a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to allow her to return to her family in Laredo while their lawsuit against the Trump administration plays out.

"While the Court has great empathy for R.M.H. and her mother, the law does not allow the Court to pick and choose the application of legal standards based on empathy," Biery said in his ruling.

Biery also suggested Rosa Maria could be reunited with her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, if de la Cruz was also apprehended and processed for deportation, which Biery doesn't understand why this hasn't already happened.

"Mother and daughter then could be successfully reunited in their home country," Biery wrote.

Border Patrol agents learned about Rosa Maria, who has cerebral palsy, when she was on her way to Corpus Christi to have surgery on Oct. 24, and had to pass through a border checkpoint to get to the hospital. Agents followed her from the checkpoint to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus, where they “shadowed her every move,” and arrested her the day after her surgery.

Rosa Maria was then transported to a shelter in San Antonio operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement on Oct. 25, which typically houses undocumented children who arrive in the United States without their parents or a guardian — but Rosa Maria has lived in Laredo, Texas with her parents since she was three months old.

The ACLU filed their lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday, saying federal immigration agents arrested Rosa Maria without a warrant; ignored policies in place for “sensitive locations” that discourage agents from going into schools, places of worship and hospitals; and disregarded medical advice from her doctor, who recommended she be discharged to family members “familiar with her medical and psychological needs.”

Rosa Maria remains in the San Antonio shelter, and will not be released back to her parents, who are in Laredo, Texas, until the ORR deems they are “suitable” to care for her — a process the ACLU says can take several weeks or months.


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