The Autistic Self Advocacy Network denounces the detainment and potential deportation of Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy in Texas. Rosa Maria Hernandez was stopped at an immigration checkpoint while in an ambulance on her way to emergency gallbladder surgery. Immediately following her surgery, border patrol agents detained her at the hospital and, rather than permitting her to return home to her family to recover, took Rosa Maria into custody. She is currently being held alone at a federal facility, despite needing round-the-clock support, and has been labeled as a danger and a priority for deportation.
ASAN demands that the US government immediately cease removal proceedings for Rosa Maria Hernandez and reunite her with her family. Rosa Maria should never have been considered for deportation. The Department of Homeland Security’s own policies classify hospitals as sensitive locations, and Customs and Border Protection’s own internal standards require them to consider the best interest of the child. These standards clearly were not followed. A disabled elementary school student, who has lived in Texas since she was 3 months old, is not a threat to our country and should not be in federal custody.
We also recognize that what has happened to Rosa Maria is not an isolated incident, but rather just one of countless instances of injustice perpetuated by the Trump administration’s heartless immigration policy and deportation machine. Earlier this year, the undocumented parents of a 2-month-old infant were arrested while the child awaited surgery. These actions are cruel, and these actions are wrong. We do not advance our national security by making vulnerable people fear seeking medical help.
ASAN calls on lawmakers and the federal government to immediately cease all deportation proceedings for Rosa Maria Hernandez and reunite her with her family. We call on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act, ensuring justice for young people like Rosa Maria, and to pass comprehensive immigration reform that protects undocumented people with disabilities and ensures that families can no longer be torn asunder. In the meantime, Border Patrol must immediately address and change their policies regarding individuals seeking medical attention, as well as regarding its use of checkpoints. These policies prevent undocumented people–as well as mixed status families, U.S. citizens, and immigrants–from receiving necessary medical attention in a timely manner. Finally, we remind health care providers of their duty to do no harm. Hospitals should do everything they can to protect the rights and privacy of their patients, starting by not allowing Border Patrol on their premises. Our common humanity demands nothing less.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.