New York Times Covers Treatment of Juana Villegas DeLaPaz
Today’s New York Times has a piece on Juana Villegas DeLaPaz, the then-very-pregnant woman who was taken in by police after a traffic stop, jailed, and shackled to the bed while in labor, to be subsequently denied contact with her husband and newborn and denied the use of a breast pump. All in the name of keeping America “safe” from undocumented immigrants. Tim Chavez has done excellent work bringing this situation to the attention of bloggers, activists, and ultimately, the Times. Please see these two posts for background and links to Tim’s and other coverage.
The New York Times piece explains how the 287g program giving immigration enforcement powers to county officers played into this situation and notes that “lawyers and immigrant advocates say Mrs. Villegas’s case shows how local police can exceed their authority when they seek to act on immigration laws they are not fully trained to enforce.”
Our mayor, though, people, our mayor, the one with a “(D)” after his name. He reportedly issued a statement on Friday saying, “We are able to identify and report individuals who are here illegally and have been charged with a criminal offense, while at the same time remaining a friendly and open city to our new legal residents.” Now, really – this incident makes we aware of how unfriendly our city can be. Aunt B explains how our current immigration system is broken, to which I would add – no city that shackles women during labor and refuses them breast pumps as a natural punishment of “criminal” behavior is a place I would consider “friendly” to anyone. The lack of compassion in this incident, the deliberate denying of DeLaPaz’s basic human dignity, are appalling. Frankly, “friendly and open” my ass, because I don’t want appropriate care with basic dignity dependent on political whims or compliance with a busted system.
Lawyer Ozment sums it up – “Whether this lady was documented or undocumented should not affect how she was treated in her late pregnant condition and as she was going through labor and bonding with her new baby.”