For girl, 10, first surgery, then the immigration agents swooped

Detention poses dire consequences for communities living in fear

I am writing in regard to the case of Rosa Maria Hernandez, the 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was detained by federal immigration agents after her surgery last month in Texas.

Following a disabled, intellectually challenged child facing major surgery into a health facility, guarding her as a threat to society, and preventing her from being with her family is, at the very least, tragic.

However, there are other potential consequences. Parents may fear bringing their family members to the hospital or clinic for care, even in an emergency. Doctors may be viewed as working with immigration authorities. Communities living in fear, with or without reason, may become more afraid to leave their homes.


When even the most vulnerable are subject to inhumanity, one must question the moral integrity of a society.

Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk


Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights


Is this how we’re going to treat vulnerable children in this country?

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A little girl, just out of surgery, is stalked and apprehended by immigration officials as she leaves the hospital. Younger than the president’s youngest child, she is forced to recover from surgery amid strangers. Here since infancy and suffering with cerebral palsy, she has to be confused, scared, and in pain. Why detain her? Because it is the law. Because Border Patrol agents were just doing their jobs and following orders. How reminiscent, how chilling.

Our nation has focused with fury over actions seen as disrespectful to the flag. But what exactly does that flag represent? Of course, it stands for the service of my father, and veterans like him, who were willing to sacrifice limbs, health, and life for this beautiful country. It also stands for our care and concern for children and the most vulnerable, for those who cannot stand up to bullies and injustice on their own.

Don’t the flag, the Constitution, and our deepest moral convictions say that children in our country will never be victims of government tyranny, racial hatred, and systematic inhumane cruelty? We could not comprehend how another nation’s sense of humanity could become so deadened that all looked away as even children were mistreated and killed. Are we looking away now as children cry out?

Will our outrage about our flag and country be directed and manipulated by a leader who brags of immoral conquests and imagined greatness? A terrified 10 year-old girl with cerebral palsy, recovering from surgery in custody at a shelter, waits for our answer.

Joanne Scott