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EDITORIAL: Release special-needs child, President Trump, from deportation

Rosa Maria Hernandez, 10, during her stay at the hospital for gall bladder surgery. An unauthorized immigrant who has lived in the U.S. since she was 3 months old, she was placed in deportation proceedings upon being released from the hospital. | Twitter/DreamActivist

Border Patrol agents guarded the patient’s room, ready to take the undocumented immigrant into custody upon release from the hospital. They were pursuing a high-priority target for deportation.

The immigrant was neither a gang member nor a killer. We’re not talking about a drug dealer.

She is a little girl, all of 10 years old, named Rosa Maria Hernandez, from Laredo, Texas.

This is what an immigration crackdown looks like under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in their pursuit to deport unauthorized immigrants. They treat innocent 10-year-olds like criminals. It is cruelty to the umpteenth degree.


Rosa Maria was traveling in an ambulance Tuesday en route to a hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery, when Border Patrol agents stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint.

News outlets have reported that agents let the ambulance pass but followed it to the hospital. They waited out the child’s recovery. Upon her release, she was transferred to a facility in San Antonio where migrant children who come to the U.S. alone are detained. They should place her with family while her case goes to the courts. Better yet, the Department of Homeland Security should drop her case. She is afflicted with cerebral palsy and has special needs. Her teachers and doctors say she has the brain capacity of a 4- or 5-year-old.

Genoveva Ramirez of Berwyn hugs her grandson, Mariano Castellanos, after a hearing in her deportation proceedings in September. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Trump and Sessions boast about ridding the country of immigrants who are dangerous criminals. They neglect to mention that a disabled 10-year-old and other vulnerable people are caught in their deportation net.

According to the Washington Post, from January through mid-March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants compared with 16,104 during the same period last year. Many were convicted criminals, the Post reported, but the number of arrests of immigrants without criminal records doubled to 5,441.

In early September, we wrote about a 67-year-old grandma from Berwyn, Genoveva Ramirez, who is in deportation proceedings after living in the U.S. for nearly two decades. She is another example of an unauthorized immigrant with no criminal record being pursued aggressively for deportation by the Trump administration. Ramirez and her family hope a visa application soon will be approved. That could help her stay in the U.S.

Rosa Maria has lived in the U.S. with her parents since she was 3 months old. This is the only country she knows. She must be terrified, caught in the callousness of two men, Trump and Sessions, and the immigration agencies they oversee.

The child’s story is spreading through immigrant communities and, no doubt, making people think twice about seeking medical care for themselves and their children. To reasonable and compassionate Americans, that’s frightening.

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