Immigration Agents Test Arrest Rules at ‘Sensitive Locations’

Authorities release 10-year-old girl in Texas who was taken into custody after emergency surgery. The ACLU had sued to challenge the arrest.

Immigration arrests are up by more than 40 percent since President Trump took office, and agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been making arrests that test the boundaries of policies on sensitive locations, the Christian Science Monitor reports. For Border Patrol agents standing outside her hospital door, moving a young undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy into deportation proceedings days after she received emergency surgery was a matter of following policy. Ten-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez had been rushed from her home in Laredo, Tx., to a hospital in Corpus Christi a few hours away. For immigration attorneys, medical professionals, and advocacy groups, the aggressive pursuit of undocumented immigrants has crossed into territory once thought unacceptable. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in the Hernandez case and the government released her on Friday.

Hospitals, schools, and places of worship are among the “sensitive locations” identified by federal immigration agencies as places where arrests should be avoided. After incidents like Hernandez’ arrest, however, officials are wondering just how sensitive they really are, and whether they need more formal legal defenses against immigration agents.
“The underlying theme of all these things is there are certain things we value more than immigration enforcement: education, health, and religion, faith,” says Lance Curtright, an immigration attorney in San Antonio. “So when someone sees what happened in Corpus they feel rattled.” In 2011, ICE said enforcement actions should not occur at “sensitive locations” like schools, hospitals, and churches, or events like weddings, funerals, and demonstrations. Last year, students were arrested en route to school or at bus stops. Since Trump took office, such arrests have been common, advocates say.