Mississippi officials conspired to take the infant of an illegal immigrant from Mexico so the girl could be adopted by a white couple, a civil rights group charged Thursday in a federal lawsuit. The Southern Poverty Law Center said Cirila Baltazar Cruz was separated from her daughter, Ruby, for a year before her child was returned to her in 2009 after the intervention of the group.
Cruz had the baby at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula in November 2008. Two days after the child was born she was taken from her mother when the Mississippi Department of Human Services deemed Cruz unfit, according to the lawsuit. Cruz – who spoke no English and little Spanish and could not read or write – was interviewed by a hospital interpreter. The interpreter spoke Spanish, not Chatino, a dialect indigenous to Cruz’s native Oaxaca in rural Mexico, the group’s lawsuit alleges.
After talking with Cruz, the interpreter told one of the immigrant’s relatives that Cruz was trading sex for housing and wanted to give the child up for adoption, according to the lawsuit. Cruz said in the court filing that she tried to explain to the interpreter she worked in a Chinese restaurant and lived in an apartment.
The child was placed in the home of Wendy and Douglas Tynes, two attorneys who lived in Ocean Springs and were foster parents. The complaint said the Tynes were seeking to adopt. The suit alleges MDHS officials conspired with a youth court judge and the Tynes to keep Cruz from her daughter so she could be adopted by the couple. Messages left at the Tynes’ offices weren’t immediately returned.
Even before the lawsuit, the case had drawn national and international attention, prompting a federal review and an agreement that requires Mississippi to notify the Mexican consulate when similar situations occur.
Joseph J. Bock, acting associate commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, cited a lack of reasonable efforts to prevent the child’s removal and that the agency used Spanish interpreters when it was known Cruz spoke Chatino. Bock also said state officials didn’t do enough to locate Cruz’s relatives to place the child with them.
“The MDHS staff interviewed did not see these issues as problematic. This leads us to conclude that this may be how business is conducted and that this is not an isolated incident,” Bock wrote.
It’s one solution to the Graham/Goehmert paranoia about ‘illegals dropping terror babies, to jump the citizenship queue’, but I don’t think anyone outside the far right wing would consider it a workable one. Let it be specified that the Tynes are no doubt wonderful people seeking only to give a birthright American infant (their idea of) the best possible start in life. But the tradition of removing “minority” children from their “inadequate” birth parents, stretching back to prehistoric tribal raids where underage and female survivors from the losing clan were considered valuable booty on the same level as any other livestock, has never had a good reputation. There’s even a rather famous story in the Old Testament about a certain at-risk infant adopted by the local aristocracy… and it could be argued that particular saga didn’t work out well for the adoptive parents, either.
From an earlier Time report about this case, “Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn’t Speak English?”
… [D]espite DHS statements to the contrary, language seems a central issue in the state’s case against Baltazar Cruz. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened in the U.S. In 2004 a Tennessee judge ordered into foster care the child of a Mexican migrant mother who spoke only an indigenous tongue. (Another judge later returned the child to her family.) Last year, a California court took custody of the U.S.-born twin babies of another indigenous, undocumented migrant from Oaxaca. After she was deported, the Oaxaca state government’s Institute for Attention to Migrants fought successfully to have the twins repatriated to her in Mexico this summer. In such cases, says the SPLC’s Bauer, a lack of interpreters is a key factor. When a mother can’t follow the proceedings, “she looks unresponsive, and that conveys to a judge a lack of interest in the child, which is clearly not the case,” she says…
One of DHS’s apparent fears is that an infant isn’t safe in a home where the mother can articulate a 911 call solely in a language spoken only by some 50,000 Oaxacan Indians. Bauer points out that children have been raised safely in the U.S. by non-English-speaking parents for well over a century. Had they not, thousands of Italians and Russians would have had to leave their kids with foster care on Ellis Island. “Raising your child is one of the most fundamental liberties, and it can only be taken from you for the most serious concerns of endangerment,” says Bauer. “Not speaking English hardly meets that standard.”