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Latina Immigrant Arrested at Texas Doctor's Office

B. Borrego has been in the U.S. illegally for over ten years, so when she went to her gynecologist’s office earlier this month, the last thing she expected was to get arrested in front of two of her children.

The mother of three was caught by surprise when sheriff’s deputies handcuffed her in front of her 8-year-old, U.S.-born daughter and taken to jail. Held in lieu of $35,000 bond, she was charged with tampering with a government record – a felony in Texas.

Borrego, 44, is originally from Monterey, Mexico. Though her husband has health insurance through his job, she gave the staff at the clinic a fake driver’s license, who alerted the authorities. In her purse, deputies later found a fake Social Security card.

County and hospital officials told the Los Angeles Times that they were enforcing the law. Meanwhile, immigrant advocates argue that the arrest will shy other immigrants away from seeking necessary medical treatment.

Borrego’s 22-year-old daughter, a graduate from Sam Houston State University, recounted the events, but did not want to be identified due to her pending application under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

She said her mother had been seeing Dr. Bonilla for about a year and a half for a cyst that was causing abdominal pain. She normally saw her doctor at a different office, so when she arrived at the new clinic outside of Houston on Sep. 3, she was asked to provide identification and insurance card.

Though Borrego was ready to leave, the clinic staffers asked her to wait. A staffer finally called her name and escorted back towards the exam rooms, where she was met by a deputy who cuffed her and took her to a waiting patrol car outside.

Memorial Herman Spokeswoman Alex Rodriguez Loessin said that they do not report undocumented patients to law enforcement. In this case, the authorities were called because of a potentially fake ID presented to the clinic.

Loessin said that it was clear to the person who received the ID that it was false.

Deputy Thomas Gilliland said that his office was obligated to respond to the clinic’s call, just as it would any other merchant reporting suspicious documents. Medical privacy was not an issue, he said.

Allison Hoffman, a UCLA School of Law professor who specializes in healthcare agreed. She said that if they know of a violation of the law, the clinic is required to report it.

Jessica Vaughan, of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies said that the arrest showed due diligence on behalf of the healthcare provider.

Meanwhile, immigrant advocates are planning protests in Houston this week to protest Borrego’s arrest and speak about other illegal immigrants who are afraid of seeking medical treatment.

Contact a Plano immigration lawyer from The Zendeh Del Law Firm!