Former ICE Director on Immigration Battle Over Ailing Girl: ‘It’s Just Not Right’

SAN ANTONIO – The immigration battle continues over a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy.

When 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez, who is in the country illegally, went to Corpus Christi for emergency surgery, Border Patrol agents stepped in. She’s now in a San Antonio shelter, separated from her family.

Alonzo Peña, the former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deputy director under George W. Bush, called the little girl’s treatment appalling.

Tears welled up in Peña’s eyes as he watched a video of Border Patrol agents escorting Hernandez from Corpus Christi’s Driscoll Children’s Hospital — the same hospital where his son died, he said.

Once the video ended, he stared down at the table with his head down. He eventually composed himself, looked up and said, “It’s totally unnecessary. (It’s) just not necessary to do that. She could have been given a notice to appear. She was just getting out of the hospital having surgery and they’re going to put her in a detention facility. It’s just not right.”

He said even though Hernandez is undocumented, the Border Patrol’s presence at the hospital was intrusive and unnecessary.

“It’s inexplicable to me that our government would have its agents conduct this action,” he said. “Those agents should be out on the line stopping drugs, stopping gang members, protecting national security, not doing this to a 10-year-old girl who has just come out of surgery and has other medical issues.”

Hernandez’s family members said she has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.

“I don’t think she understands what actually is going to happen to her — that she’s not going to be able to see her family (and) she’s going to be separated from her family (and) lose her freedom.” Peña said.

Hernandez has cousins who are U.S. citizens but she is not being released to them. Instead she was taken from the hospital to a government-licensed shelter in San Antonio.

By Courtney Friedman for KSAT ABC 12
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