October 30, 2017

(Los Angeles, CA) Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), released the following statement today in response to the detention of Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who underwent emergency gallbladder surgery in Texas. Rosa, a Mexican national, was detained by Border Patrol agents at the hospital where she was recovering and transferred to a San Antonio immigration detention facility for minors. She remains in custody and separated from her family.

"Heartless. Inhumane. Nauseating. These are really the only appropriate words to describe the Border Patrol actions in detaining Rosa Maria Hernandez. Targeting the patient in an ambulance at a checkpoint; detailing agents to follow a child to a hospital surgery as though she were a violent criminal; taking a disabled minor from emergency surgery to a detention center. This case, perhaps more than any other, exposes the lie in Donald Trump’s assertion that the Administration would target criminals for immigration enforcement action. A 10-year-old, disabled child is a security threat to no one with even an iota of rationality. How dare this Administration waste taxpayer resources on tactics more appropriate to uniformed thugs serving the most extreme of despots in some totalitarian hellhole. Does this Administration have any shame at all? Rosa Maria Hernandez should be immediately released to her family. And patients in ambulances, particularly children, should henceforth be completely off limits in immigration enforcement."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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