Border Patrol Agents recently stopped a medical transport vehicle transporting a young girl to a hospital for surgery to question the occupants’ citizenship. Although those charged with her transportation stated 10 year-olds do not carry identification, the agents decided to conduct a more thorough investigation.
The agents detained the medical transport vehicle for almost half an hour and stated that they would follow the vehicle and begin deportation proceedings for the child once the surgery was complete.
What is this child’s story? This child comes from what appears to be a loving family. The family home is composed of a grandfather who is a legal permanent resident, the young child’s mother, father and two older sisters. The father works to provide for the family and the mother remains in the home to care for the children. The mother, father and children relocated to the United States when the detained child was only three-months old. The child has cerebral palsy and requires therapy, special-education courses and other services. She also sees a pediatrician every month.
What will happen to this child? The child is currently in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against members of the ORR and United States Border Patrol. These agents face accusations of an illegal attempt to deport this child. The suit aims to secure the release of the child. The physicians responsible for her care have recommended that she return to her family to recover, but the agents kept her in her hospital room and ultimately transferred her to an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter, over 150 miles from her family.
The ACLU has a number of arguments to support the release of this child. Some examples include:
- The ORR does not have the authority to detain the child. The organization argues that the ORR can only detain “unaccompanied children.” This term is defined as those who do not have parents available within the United States to provide for their care. This child has parents in the United States with an established history of providing for the child.
- The arrest was illegal. There are certain protocols that must be followed in order to make an arrest. The ACLU states that the warrantless arrest of this child was illegal as there was no probable cause and there was no concern that she would flee.
- The government is endangering the child. The organization also states that Customs and Border Protection as well as ORR are failing to properly provide for the child’s needs based on her disability. Such actions, they contend, are a form of a discrimination that is not allowed under the Rehabilitation Act and is causing harm to the child.
If successful, the organization will secure the release of the child. At that time, the family may need to begin building a defense to further deportation attempts.