Immigrant woman’s baby taken away because she couldn’t communicate with hospital staff

Thanks to Indra Lusero for posting this on facebook, from RaceWire:

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.

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

The way immigrant women are abused in this country is incredible and so saddening. Not being able to communicate with the hospital staff is the HOSPITAL’s issue, not the mother’s.


11 thoughts on “Immigrant woman’s baby taken away because she couldn’t communicate with hospital staff

  1. Jill June 17, 2009 / 11:25 pm

    This is a travesty. I am so furious about this. That baby is almost eight months old now.

    Isn’t Mississippi always right there in the English Only push?

  2. John June 18, 2009 / 12:09 pm

    How is it the hospital’s responsibility to speak her language? Following your logic, the hospital staff would then be responsible to speak every language of every person who could potentially visit their hospital.

    I’m sorry, but if I lived in Mexico, I would learn the language. This is a travesty, the baby should stay with it’s mother, but blaming the hospital for not speaking her language is just a little ridiculous.

    • EricaS June 29, 2009 / 12:04 am

      I want to add to Miriam’s words, if I may – I will soon begin working as a Registered Nurse, and I have been taught that it is legally the hospital’s responsibility to provide interpreter services, not the individual seeking care. There are over-the-telephone interpreter services for most languages in the world, so hospital staff can simply call a phone number for an interpreter.

      I’ll also echo Nakia’s words – how does the non-English speaking, “un-American” world raise children? in fact, there are millions of humans raised by non-U.S. citizens every moment of every day – and thousands (perhaps millions!) of them are healthier and wealthier than many U.S. citizens!!

  3. radicaldoula June 18, 2009 / 1:26 pm

    Obviously, John, I disagree.

    I do think it’s the healthcare provider’s responsibility to ensure their services are accessible to all patients.

    We live in a multi-lingual world and health care providers need to adjust to that. At the very least, there are phone lines which provide translation via phone for many languages. Obviously not every hospital can have interpreters for every language.

    The fact that this contributed to her losing custody of her child is disgusting, at best.

  4. Nakia June 19, 2009 / 12:22 pm

    Oh my word. It’s also likely that this mother has little idea of why her daughter was taken from her.
    And it’s news to me that English language skills are required for parenting- how does the non-English speaking world manage?

  5. jessimonster June 19, 2009 / 5:08 pm

    This story is absolutely heart breaking. I can understand differences in opinion on the whole deportation thing, but who on either side of the political fence can endorse separating a mother from her child?
    I’m sure this story is going to be used as ammunition for the people who accuse immigrants of having “anchor babies”. Separating mother and child, and calling parents unfit because of immigration status, is not a solution to that problem. But the people who make the anchor baby accusations talk about immigrants like they’re livestock, or something, so I’m not suprised that they would think this sort of thing is acceptable.
    This just makes me sick.

  6. Meghan April 7, 2010 / 2:00 pm

    I agree that her child should not have been taken away on grounds of non-English speaking.

    What was this woman doing in the US without a visa? Her child should have been left with her, and she should have been immediately deported. Since her child has American citizenship, the mother could have decided whether or not her child should remain in the US. She is illegally in the US, and therefore has no right to stay here.

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