63ºF

Rep. Joaquin Castro: Convicted murderers get to visit family more than ill 10-year-old did

Rosa Maria Hernandez released from ICE custody on Friday

Rosa Maria Hernandez, 10, who has cerebral palsy, was taken into U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody shortly after emergency gallbladder surgery in Texas.
Rosa Maria Hernandez, 10, who has cerebral palsy, was taken into U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody shortly after emergency gallbladder surgery in Texas. (DreamActivist.org via CNN)

SAN ANTONIO – Congressman Joaquin Castro condemned the President's policies on immigration and congress' lack of action on immigration reform on Saturday while addressing the detention and release of 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez.

On Friday, Rosa Maria, a child with Cerebral Palsy suspected of living in the country illegally was released from ICE custody despite a federal court ruling that cancelled a hearing scheduled for next week.

"There don't seem to be the exact words in the English language to describe what a shame this was," Castro said. "On one hand we're glad that this is over -- her custody, her detention -- but on the other hand, this became the shame of the nation and a symbol of a broken immigration system."

LIVE: Congressman Joaquin Castro will discuss the detention and release of 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez. Rosa Maria was reunited with her family yesterday despite a federal court ruling. STORY>> http://bit.ly/2iZPqw9

Posted by KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Saturday, November 4, 2017

Castro called Rosa Maria's situation a "failure" of the president and his policies as well as congress.

"Her hospital room staked out -- and then she'd be kept in detention only to be allowed to talk to her family and her mom by Facetime," Castro said. "As I thought about that, I thought that there are folks who are convicted of murder who get more visits with their family members than this young girl got."

Rosa Maria's attorney Leticia Gonzalez told KSAT 12's Jessie Degollado Friday night that she was approved for release and "is being taken to her parents right now."

Rosa Maria has lived in the United States since she was 3 months old and was traveling via ambulance from Driscoll’s Children Hospital in Laredo to Corpus Christi for medical treatment when the ambulance she was in was stopped by Customs and Border Protection officers.

Officers stopped the ambulance at a checkpoint in Freer, Texas.

CBP officers allowed the ambulance to continue to the hospital in Corpus Christi, but followed her to the hospital and took her into custody when she was discharged.

Rosa Maria remained in federal custody in the Office of Refugee Resettlement for 10 days before she was released to her family on Friday.

Her release came after United States District Judge Fred Biery rejected a request to have her released from federal custody. It's unclear what allowed Rosa Maria to be released.

"While the court has great empathy for Rosa Maria Hernandez, and her mother, the law does not allow the court to pick and choose the application of legal standards based on empathy," Biery said in his ruling.

Biery also questioned why Felipa De La Cruz, Rosa Maria's mother, has not been apprehended herself and subject to the same deportation procedures that are underway for Rosa Maria.

However, hours after Biery's ruling, Rosa Maria was released. Castro said Rosa Maria's future in the U.S. is still uncertain.

"The Trump Administration has not made clear whether they will proceed with deportation proceedings against her," Castro said.

Castro's full statement:

“Finally, Rosa Maria has been released to her family where she belongs. This young girl and her loved ones have been through a traumatizing ordeal. I wish them the best, and hope Rosa Maria’s health improves. While this is welcome news, Rosa Maria’s future remains uncertain. The Trump Administration has not made clear whether they will proceed with deportation proceedings against her. I continue to call for Rosa Maria’s case to be administratively closed. Moving forward, we must address the Trump Administration’s callous actions. The United States should not be a place where children seeking life-sustaining medical care are at risk of apprehension. I urge the Department of Homeland Security to abide by its claims that dangerous criminals are the agency’s priority and reinforce its sensitive locations policies to employees. A case like Rosa Maria’s should never happen again.”

Immigration advocates called for the public to put pressure on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to close Rosa Maria's case.