BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Imagine facing emergency surgery and deportation at the exact same time. That`s the reality for an undocumented couple living in Brownsville.
Irma and Oscar Sanchez have lived in the Rio Grande Valley for 12 years. Their four children are all U.S. citizens. When their infant became extremely sick in May, they went straight to Harlingen`s hospital and were referred to Driscoll Children`s Hospital in Corpus.
Ana Alicia Hinojosa, an immigration education coordinator says, "That's when they said they were not able to travel because they didn't have any papers."
Hospital administrators asked border patrol to help transfer the patient. So, while facing their son`s urgent healthcare status, agents showed up in the E.R. questioning the couple`s legal status.
Hinojosa says targeting the couple in the hospital goes against the department of homeland security`s sensitive location policy, which lays out places immigration agents are allowed to conduct searches, interviews, and arrests. Schools, churches and medical facilities are all considered safe places for undocumented immigrants.
"At a hospital you are supposed to go receive medical help. You're supposed to go get help, not be in danger or prosecuted."
Border Patrol issued a statement saying: "To get the child the care it urgently needed, border patrol agents did everything in their power to assist the family."
Agents escorted the ambulance to the Corpus hospital, and stayed with the family while doctors operated on the baby. Just three weeks after surgery, the couple received the notice to appear in court to begin deportation proceedings.
"They're scared. They're scared about the what if, what's going to happen, the uncertainty."
Irma and Oscar Sanchez are thankful surgery went well, but now worry about the long-term prognosis for their entire family.