Reuniting Mother and Baby

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

By Daniel Nardini

In a very important case for the rights of the undocumented, a U.S. district judge ruled that the State of Mississippi had violated the rights of an undocumented woman to keep her child. The undocumented mother, Cirila Baltazar Cruz, had her baby taken away by the Singing River Hospital and the Mississippi Department of Human Services. They had taken away Cruz’s baby daughter because they had accused the mother of being “unfit” because of her immigration status. But what they had done was violate Cruz’s constitutional rights by separating her from the baby daughter she wanted to raise.

The case is one that will become a litmus test for all undocumented mother across the United States—whether they can keep their children. It is one of the cruel ironies that the U.S. immigration system tolerates and many U.S. states arbitrarily take away the children of undocumented parents simply because the parents are undocumented. This somehow makes them “unfit” to be parents and unfit to be family. The total ridiculousness of this argument means that Lord knows how many children of undocumented families are separated from their families and then kept in orphanages or state facilities with children who were clearly abused and abandoned by their parents.

Legal rights organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center found this line of argument ridiculous and has thrown its legal weight behind Cruz to try and get her baby daughter back. So far mother and daughter have been reunited and Cruz will get her day in a civil court to show she is a very fit mother for her child. For over one year, Cruz had lost her daughter and was unable to get her back through the Mississippi state’s bureaucratic machinery. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on Cruz’s behalf, and her baby daughter was returned. This tale I am confident will have a happy ending, but there are so many undocumented parents out there who lost their children and who should also be allowed to have their children with them. No law should ever violate the right of any fit parent from losing their child or children simply because of their immigration status.

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