Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Maria Isabel Bueso, 24, speaks during a protest outside of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital on September 06, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Maria Isabel Bueso, 24, speaks during a protest outside of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital on September 06, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Nurses, Healthcare Workers Galvanize to Stop Deportation of Patient That Could Mean 'Death Sentence'

"This is an issue of basic morality."

Andrea Germanos

A group of healthcare providers rallied outside a California hospital on Friday to protest a patient's possible deportation—an action her advocates say would be an effective death sentence.

"Immigrants are human beings whose lives are not to be thrown away," said Aina Gagui, an RN at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, in a press statement.

The case involves 24-year-old Maria Isabel Bueso, who's been receiving life-saving treatment which is unavailable in her home country of Guatemala for the rare disease she suffers from, mucopolysaccharidosis type VI, at the Bay Area hospital since she was seven. Bueso and her parents came to the country at the invitation of Dr. Paul Harmatz, who wanted Isabel to take part in clinical trials.

While Bueso and her family have been in the country legally under the medical "deferred action" program that gives those receiving needed medical condition permission to stay. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) explained this week that the family "has followed every rule."

"They came here legally, paid their taxes, and Isabel's participation in groundbreaking clinical trials has given hope to Americans with rare diseases," said DeSaulnier.

But in mid-August, the family got news that Isabel's mom, Karla, said made her feel like "the whole world was collapsing." The Bueso family received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security saying the deferment was not being renewed, as it had been previously, and that the family must leave the country within 33 days or face deportation.

Uncertainty continued on Monday when the administration announced it was reopening cases of such deferments. But the administration did not say it was getting rid of the controversial policy change fully. Nor was it clear that another medical deferrment for Isabel, who is wheelchair-bound, was a sure thing.

For Isabel, it's a matter of life or death.

"You're really handing her a death sentence," Dr. Harmatz told MSNBC last week of a possible deportation. "It's as if we're pulling the plug on a respirator or stopping feedings for a patient that needs that type of support."

Healthcare workers at the hospital hope that scenario never happens.

"It's our duty as nurses to fight for what's best for our patients, regardless of their immigration status," said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU).

"There are no borders to caring for our patients' health," said Castillo, "and nurses are standing up to demand Maria Isabel Bueso and other patients maintain their right to receive lifesaving care. This is an issue of basic morality."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo