The original report from Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance:
Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.
The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.
The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:
* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”
Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.
The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.
I reprinted a piece by Zuky at the time as well.
Well, on February 22, 2010, the Native American Times reported:
A Mexican immigrant walked out of the Gartin Justice Building on Friday holding the daughter who had been taken from her by state officials in 2008, when advocates say she was accused of being an unfit mother because she doesn’t speak English.
Cirila Balthazar Cruz and her 1-year-old child, Ruby, were surrounded by Southern Poverty Law Center officials as they left. None of them would discuss details of the case, citing the confidentiality of Youth Court proceedings.
Because the records in the case are sealed, it is unclear what reason the state used to take custody of the child. However, immigrant advocates have said the child was taken because Cruz was an illegal immigrant and did not speak English.
“This is a very happy day for us,” SPLC legal director Mary Bauer told The Associated Press. “That is her baby.”
Friday’s proceeding before Special Judge Billy Bridges may not be the end of the case, which has led to a memorandum of understanding between Mississippi and the Mexican government and drawn the attention of immigration advocates nationwide.