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AAP Statement in Response to the Detainment of Rosa Maria Hernandez

10/30/2017 by: Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics and Kimberly Avila Edwards, MD, FAAP, President, Texas Chapter of the AAP

"The American Academy of Pediatrics is dedicated to the health and well-being of all children, no matter where they or their parents were born. One such child is Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. According to press reports, last week on her way to undergo emergency surgery, Rosa was followed by U.S. immigration authorities in her ambulance, monitored as she recovered, and taken to an immigration shelter, reportedly against physicians' recommendations.

"Cerebral palsy is a neurological movement disorder that impairs a person's ability to control muscles. Children with cerebral palsy, like Rosa, may have complex medical needs necessitating access to appropriate and safe health care as well as the love and support of her mother and other relatives. The shelter where Rosa is currently staying is not equipped to care for a child with cerebral palsy, especially after recovering from major surgery.

"The Department of Homeland Security's own policy instructs its employees to avoid taking enforcement action at 'sensitive locations' like schools, hospitals and places of worship. And yet, with Rosa's case and in previous instances, we have seen this policy violated, which alarms and concerns those of us who care for children, and prompted the Academy to write directly to the agency earlier this month.

"According to Rosa's mother, our country is the only meaningful home that Rosa—who came here at three months old—has ever known. She has never been away from her family. She needs medical attention. She needs our compassion. There are millions more children and young adults just like Rosa who need the same, whether they are facing an uncertain future because of the looming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or whether they are living in constant fear that they or their parents will be deported because of harmful executive actions.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics and Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the AAP, urge the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to release Rosa expeditiously into the care of her family, to exercise the discretion they currently have in humanitarian cases such as this one, and to follow its own policy forbidding enforcement actions at sensitive locations. Immigrant children are still children, and they deserve to go to school and the doctor without fear of deportation or detainment."

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American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds

Texas Pediatric Society

The Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of over 4,000 members, believes that the most important resource of the State of Texas is its children, and pledges its efforts to promote their health and welfare. The goal of the Society is that all children in the State attain their full potential for physical, emotional, and social health. For more information, visit www.txpeds.org and follow us on Twitter @txpeds.