Did Mississippi Mother Lose Her Baby to Foster Care Because She Doesn’t Speak English?
Time has a shocking immigration story in its Aug. 27 issue about an undocumented woman originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, who was reported to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation when she showed up at a hospital in Pascagoula, Miss., to give birth. The agency took the newborn away and arranged to have it placed in foster care, reportedly because the mother’s lack of English “placed her unborn child in danger and will place the baby in danger in the future.”
The mother, Baltazar Cruz, now faces deportation, while her baby was given to a couple in Ocean Springs, Miss.
At this point, it’s not clear if there was some miscommunication that contributed to Cruz losing her baby — Cruz speaks only Chatino (an indigenous language native to Mexico), barely any Spanish and no English. The hospital relied on the translation by an American of Puerto Rican descent who spoke no Chatino and whose Spanish was significantly different from the way it’s spoken in Mexico.
According to the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, the state of Mississippi, based on that translation, portrayed Cruz as essentially a prostitute (in fact, she was working in a Chinese restaurant) and insisted that the child be put up for adoption. Since “she has failed to learn the English language,” the newspaper quotes [state] documents as saying, she was “unable to call for assistance for transportation to the hospital” to give birth.
Lawyers from the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center are now trying to help Cruz get her baby back, but they can’t comment on the case because a judge has imposed a gag order.