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Illegal immigrant parents of sick girl granted 1-year stay

Fri., July 13, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO – The illegal immigrant parents of a toddler with a little-known genetic abnormality were granted a one-year stay in the United States, U.S. Customs and Immigration officials said Thursday.

Victor and Maria Roa, who entered the country illegally in 1990, want to stay in the United States because their daughter’s condition requires specialized care she would likely not be able to get in their native Mexico. Before officials accepted their request, filed earlier this month, the Roas were under order to leave by July 26.

Their daughter, 17-month-old Hazelle Roa, was scheduled for an exploratory heart procedure Thursday that would seek to open up a constricted heart valve – one of the consequences of her genetic disorder – and help doctors decide whether she would need further heart surgery.

Immigration officials said the one-year stay was based on what ICE believed was in the best interest of this family, given their circumstances.

The Roas want their immigration case to be reopened. They also want permanent residency under a rule that allows undocumented immigrants to remain if their departure would cause extreme hardship to an American citizen.

Hazelle was born in the United States and has been followed by a team of physicians at the University of California, San Francisco’s Medical Center.

Her doctors have written letters in support of keeping her family in the United States, saying the child was unlikely to get the medical attention she needs to live a full life elsewhere.

“Her condition is essentially unique,” said Stephen Wilson, medical director for the pediatric unit at UCSF, just before the toddler was checked in for the procedure.

“She’s really dependent on the technical intervention we’re providing here. It’s quite critical for her ongoing survival.”


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