A 17-month old girl who underwent a heart operation for a rare birth defect has more than one share of good news. Not only has she fully recovered, her parents, illegal immigrants in the U.S, have also been granted a year more to stay there and care for their U.S citizen daughter.
Hazelle Roa's little-known genetic abnormality left her with a thyroid deficiency and a narrow artery into her heart, which kept her in the hospital most of her life. According to medical specialists, at the University of California San Francisco's Medical Center, the little girl's prospects are now brighter after the procedure, though she would probably still require lifelong medical care.
The U.S.-born girl's parents crossed the border illegally 17 years ago, and they had been ordered to surrender for deportation to Mexico by July 26. In November 2004, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled they were in the United States illegally and gave them the option of leaving on their own.
Before the decision to allow the parents to remain, their attorney, David Lunas, criticized the agency for moving to separate the family at a difficult time.
"Hazelle would require lifelong medical care, and if her parents are deported this will cause extreme hardship to her," he had argued.
The grant of extension is a blessing to the Roas as, if they were forced to leave the United States Hazelle would have had no relatives to tend to her, as the family has no kin in the U.S. In addition, if they were to bring the girl with them to Mexico, they probably could not find the care Hazelle has been receiving from the physicians at UCSF, who have followed her case from the beginning.