SAN ANTONIO -- The case of 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez is raising anxiety among other illegal immigrants who may not seek medical help in fear of deportation.
Hernandez and her parents entered the U.S. illegally in 2007. Her parents came to the U.S. to seek better medical care for their daughter who has cerebral palsy. Last week, she crossed the border patrol checkpoint in Laredo to get an emergency gallbladder surgery. Border patrol agents followed the ambulance she was in and detained her after the procedure at a hospital. Currently, she remains in a detention center in San Antonio.
When it comes to emergency care for illegal immigrants, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act covers them. Hospitals must treat any patient regardless of their immigration status. The HIPPA privacy rule also protects patient medical information. University Hospital and Christus Santa Rosa Hospital said they will not report a patient's immigration status to federal authorities. Christus added that it won't even ask patients about their legal status.
Currently, there are lawmakers who are pushing for legislation to stop arrests from happening at sensitive locations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a policy that designates schools, places of worship and hospitals as sensitive locations. ICE says those areas will be avoided unless there's a threat to public safety. Lawmakers have criticized federal authorities for violating its own rule with Hernandez's detention and other cases in the past.
A couple who lived in Rio Grande Valley went past a border patrol checkpoint and was later detained at a hospital. They were waiting for their 2-month-old son's surgery to treat pyloric stenosis, a condition that stops food from entering the small intestine and needs immediate medical treatment.