by Cindy Von Quednow

In Pascagoula, Mississippi, in November 2008, Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to a baby girl. Soon after, her daughter was taken away from her because she could not communicate with the hospital attendants.

Far away from her native Oaxaca, Mexico, she did not understand the Puerto Rican interpreter assigned to her. Cirila speaks Chatino, an indigenous Mexican language spoken by about 50,000 people. A social worker called in by hospital authorities deemed the new mother negligent and unfit to raise the baby, stating as reasons that she was an “illegal immigrant” and that she did not speak English.

To date, 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.

Baltazar Cruz is up for deportation, while her daughter is reported to be with an affluent Ocean Springs couple.

About 65 percent of Pascagoula’s 26,000 residents are white. Only 904 Pascagoulans are foreign born — about 20 of them from Latin America. Since most of the people that live in this tiny Gulf Coast town are isolated from the realities of immigrant life, it seems the authorities involved acted first and asked questions later. Now a woman has been separated from her child and can only wait to be sent back to her home country.

The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance has started a campaign to reunite mother and child by asking people to pressure Mississippi. officials. Get more information about Cirila Baltazar Cruz, along with the addresses and phone numbers of the authorities to contact, here, and help right a wrong.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2009/06/speaking_english_a_requirement.html


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