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US releases 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy following ACLU lawsuit

Ten-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez was released from a federal detainment center Friday, roughly 11 days after U.S. officials arrested her for crossing an immigration checkpoint to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery at Corpus Christi, Texas-based Driscoll Children's Hospital Oct. 24, The New York Times reports.

Lawyers on behalf of the family said Rosa Maria was released from the San Antonio detention facility around 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 and was transported back to her family in Laredo, Texas, the report states.

Despite her release, Rosa Maria is still under the threat of deportation, according to The New York Times.

Upon learning she had entered the U.S. without legal permission, U.S. Border Patrol agents accompanied Rosa Maria's ambulance to Driscoll Children's Oct. 24 and stood guard outside her room until she was officially released from the facility. Officials then transported her to a HHS Administration for Children & Families Office of Refugee Resettlement detainment facility, where she was placed into deportation proceedings Oct. 26.

HHS told The New York Times Nov. 3 the agency could not comment on Rosa Maria's case citing privacy rules.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection previously stated its agents were legally obligated to detain Rosa Maria because she was an unaccompanied minor and had not been traveling to the hospital with a parent or legal guardian. While a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy discourages officials from engaging in enforcement actions at "sensitive locations," which include hospitals, a spokesperson for the agency told The New York Times the agents involved in the case had taken Rosa Maria into custody at the checkpoint prior to her arrival at Driscoll Children's.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Trump administration Oct. 31, alleging federal officials violated several laws by detaining Rosa Maria and for treating her as an unaccompanied minor. The organization said federal policies identify "unaccompanied children" as children who do not have a parent or guardian able to care for them in the U.S. However, Rosa Maria lives with her parents in Laredo and was with a family member when she was taken into custody.

"Finally, Rosa Maria has been released to her family where she belongs," Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said in a statement Nov. 3. "This young girl and her loved ones have been through a traumatizing ordeal. The United States should not be a place where children seeking life-sustaining medical care are at risk of apprehension."

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