Parents face deportation after taking baby to hospital

Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 13:38:42-04

BROWNSVILLE, TX (KGBT/CNN) - Parents are fighting deportation after taking their infant son to the hospital for an emergency surgery.

As the parents were making a big decision about the surgery, Border Patrol agents showed up asking about their status.

Irma and Oscar Sanchez, who have lived in Brownsville for the past 12 years, said their lives changed in May when their infant son got dangerously sick and they went seeking for medical care at Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen.

"They referred them over to Driscoll, a hospital In Corpus (Christi) and the parents were asked that they were going to have to travel, and that's when they said they were not able to travel because they didn't have any papers," said Ana Alicia Hinojosa, a Mennonite Central Commitee immigration education coordinator. 

The couple said Border Patrol agents entered the hospital and asked about their legal status before the transfer even happened.

The Border Patrol said the hospital asked the agents to assist the undocumented parents.

In a statement the agency said, "To get the child the care it urgently needed, Border Patrol agents did everything in their power to assist the family, including escorting the ambulance, unimpeded, through the checkpoint. As required by law, the agents stayed with the family but deferred processing until after the child's procedure."  

"We have a job to do, but we do that job as humanely as possible," said Manny Padilla, chief of the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Border Patrol.

"Then come morning, they took Mr. Sanchez and separately and Mrs. Sanchez first to go get processed at the border patrol station in Corpus, and when they came back, it was an hour before the baby was going to be taken into surgery," Hinojosa said.

Three weeks later, both parents were sent documents with a notice to appear in court to begin deportation proceedings, Hinjosa said.

"They're scared. They're scared about the what if, what's going to happen, the uncertainty. They have children. They have three other children," she said.

Although their son was able to get the appropriate care, the family has to face the battle to stay in the U.S., especially since all of their children are U.S. citizens.

Hinojosa said the two shouldn't have been targeted at the hospital, since it goes against Department of Homeland Securities sensitive location policy.

"There are sensitive locations, one of them being schools, churches and the other one is hospitals. And of course that rule was made to where people had safe places. At a hospital, you are supposed to go receive medical help, you're supposed to go get help, not be in danger or prosecuted," she said.

Hinojosa and the Sanchez want undocumented immigrants to know their rights in case they face a similar situation.

"They have a rights to a phone call, they have a right to get an attorney or some kind of legal representation, they have a right to remain silent," Hinojosa said. "You know, they don't have to say anything. In the instance where Border Patrol showed up at the hospital, they didn't have to divulge information, they have the right to remain quiet, but they didn't know any better."

Driscoll Children's Hospital declined to discuss the case because of privacy issues.

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