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New York Times Covers Treatment of Juana Villegas DeLaPaz

July 20, 2008

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.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sorry about the kid permalink
    July 20, 2008 1:17 pm

    Sorry about the newborn, and the cops probably were acting like jerks toward the mother. But, you know what?, the simplest facts are that she was deported once before and came back to this country. She was driving without a license, apparently doesn’t understand English well enough to read road signs, and probably doesn’t know the rules of the road if she was driving badly enough to get pulled over.

    So, while she isn’t a gangbanger, she is a lawbreaker (several times over) and a danger to other drivers and to pedestrians. Furthermore, I’d like more people hauled off to jail when they can’t prove their identity while driving on public roads. Either that or impound their vehicles. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Sorry about the bad timing of the arrest, sorry about the treatment of the child. Let’s straighten out those issues. But I blame the mother (and the father) more than I blame the cops.

    The ground has shifted on the immigration issue. Issues like the treatment of this woman will not cause people will not take their eye off the central issue – driving out illegal immigrants.

  2. Sorry About Your Ethics permalink
    August 7, 2008 5:18 pm

    I think, for once, everyone’s eye is finally on the right ball on this one. I’d rather “drive out” *ssholes like you.

  3. Mike J permalink
    August 19, 2011 12:06 am

    Villegas was driving without a license, without insurance, and in the country illegally. And she was driving dangerously (that’s why she was stopped in the first place). If she had caused an accident, the accident victim would have been out of luck trying to recover anything from her. Villegas’ behavior was thoughtless, reckless, and evil. It is scary to think that she is out on the streets again.

    (As for whether shackling her was justified or not, that’s a medical and legal question. The police appears to have acted in accordance to regulations, but they have loosened them now.)


  1. Conspirama
  2. Officer Who Arrested Juana Villegas DeLaPaz is School Board Candidate « Women’s Health News

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