An illegal immigrant from Mexico is suing Mississippi’s welfare agency for taking away a newborn girl that she delivered in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Cirila Baltazar Cruz. According to attorneys involved in the case, Cruz did not speak English and only a little Spanish when she gave birth at the Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula.
Mississippi welfare workers assumed custody of Cirila Baltazar Cruz’s baby two days after she was born after the woman was deemed legally unfit. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) stated that the mother who could not read or write, was not presented with a proper interpreter and therefore her rights were violated. Cruz is reportedly from Oaxaca, a rural region of Mexico where the Chatino indigenous dialect is spoken. The varieties of the Chatino dialect are spoken by approximately 40,000 Mexican residents in the southern region of the country.
The Mississippi interpreter who spoke with Cirila Cruz told her relatives that she was trading sex for housing and wished to give the baby girl up for adoption, according to lawsuit documents. The woman allegedly attempted to tell welfare workers that she lived in an apartment and worked at a Chinese restaurant. One flaw in the claims posed by the Southern Poverty Law Center noted by those opposed to the lawsuit involve the ability of the illegal immigrant’s relatives to communicate with the new mother.
Although a federal judge has allowed the lawsuit to move forward, some of those following the case wonder why Cruz’s relatives could not understand what she was saying or at least inform welfare workers about the dialect she spoke to prevent any confusion about her parenting capabilities. There is no known corroboration from the Chinese restaurant which allegedly employed Cruz, but since it is against the law to hire illegal immigrants, none is likely to be forthcoming.
Cirila Cruz and her baby were separated for a year before the girl was allowed to live with her mother. The single mother and her daughter have now returned to Mexico. Earlier this week US District Judge Henry T. Wingate denied Mississippi Department of Human Services and Singing River Hospital staffer immunity in the case. The workers were seeking immunity under the state’s Tort Claims Act.
Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Michelle Lapointe had this to say about the illegal immigrant custody lawsuit:
“This decision means that state officials cannot violate with impunity a mother’s Constitutional right to raise her child. Immigrant parents, like all parents, have the right to keep their families together. Fabricating charges against a mother to separate her from her child is egregious.”
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Cruz claims that she was denied her Constitutional rights to family integrity and seeks monetary damages.
[Secondary Image Via: Sharon Steinman/Southern Poverty Law Center]
[Featured Image Via: Shutterstock.com]