U.S. Releases 10-Year-Old Immigrant With Cerebral Palsy To Family, ACLU says

Rosa Maria Hernandez, 10, has been released to her parents; the young girl was detained because she is in the U.S. without legal permission.

HOUSTON (CBS News) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the U.S. government has released a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was detained by border agents after surgery because she is in the U.S. without legal permission.

The ACLU and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said in statements Friday that Rosa Maria Hernandez was released to her parents. An activist with the Workers Defense Action Fund also confirmed her release.

The ACLU sued the government on Rosa Maria’s behalf on Oct. 31, just days after she and an adult cousin were followed by Border Patrol to a children’s hospital.

“Rosa Maria is finally free. We’re thrilled that she can go home to heal surrounded by her family’s love and support,” Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement Friday evening. “Despite our relief, Border Patrol’s decision to target a young girl at a children’s hospital remains unconscionable. No child should go through this trauma and we are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Border Patrol said it had to detain Rosa Maria because she passed through an interior checkpoint in South Texas without her parents, who brought her to the U.S. from Mexico in 2007.

Hernandez’s cousin Aurora Cantu — an American citizen — was there when the young girl was detained in October. She told CBS News that agents pressured the Hernandez family to transfer Rosa Maria to a Mexican hospital after she underwent emergency gallbladder surgery, but they declined, so agents took the 10-year-old into custody.

“This is detrimental to a child in that capacity,” said Leticia Gonzalez, an attorney for the Hernandez family. She says the border patrol agents had the discretion to let the child go. “I see the little face that says ‘mommy’ and that was not something that I could give her.”

(© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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