Imagine a ten-year-old girl is suffering from critical gall bladder pain. She’s been nauseated, maybe vomiting. Oh, and she has cerebral palsy. Her family takes her to the hospital, she’s changed into a hospital gown, and as the doctors place her under the fog of general anesthesia, a nurse reassures her everything will be okay.
Now imagine that same little girl wakes up after surgery and discovers that federal immigration enforcement officers have been waiting outside the door of her hospital room. Why? Because when she was three months old her mother brought her into the US without proper legal documentation. Never mind the US is the only country this little girl has ever known. Never mind she’s a child—with cerebral palsy. She and her family passed through an immigration check point on the way to the hospital, and now she’s on ICE’s radar.
It should be noted that the agency that confirmed Rosemarie Hernandez’s undocumented status at that check point also reportedly dispatched officers to escort the girl and her US Citizen aunt to the hospital so she could receive the care she needs, and such action is commendable, but the question all reasonable Americans should be asking is this: why on earth is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency prioritizing a sick, disabled girl whose lived in the United States for virtually her entire life?
According to recent reports, Rosemarie Hernandez was cleared to leave the hospital on October 26th, 2017, and was immediately transferred by federal authorities to a refugee detention facility in San Antonio. Her family is currently waiting to find out if this little girl will be deported or returned to her home.
Now, I know there are those who will say that ICE is “just enforcing the law,” but consider our country’s history of bad laws. When runaway slaves were returned to their masters, authorities were just enforcing the law. When women were thrown in jail for demanding the right to vote, authorities were just enforcing the law. When Rosa Parks went to jail for refusing to give up her seat on that bus in Alabama, authorities were just enforcing the law.
Our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed, but not while ignoring the plight of a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy whose only crime was being born on the wrong side of an artificial border. We cannot hide inhumanity behind the façade of bad laws. We must acknowledge that just about every citizen of the United States is an immigrant in one way or another. True patriotism means compassion for the most vulnerable among us, regardless of where they were born. Fix immigration, but send Rosa home.
Contributing Editor: Joey Franklin
Joey Franklin is a father of three who works as an essayist and English Professor in Provo, UT. He is the author of the book My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married, and can be found on twitter @joey_franklin and online at joeyfranklin.com.
Featured Image Source: Stephanie Keith/Reuters