Here's why local police departments shouldn't be allowed to enforce federal immigration laws: Nashville officers forced Juana Villegas to give birth while shackled to a hospital gurney, and then separated the mother from her newborn. Villegas' breasts soon become infected and the infant developed jaundice. Juana, a 33-year-old undocumented immigrant, was arrested and thrown in jail for the misdemeanor charge of driving without a license.
Officers normally issue a citation for driving without a license. After her arrest, the Davidson County Sheriff learned that Juana was an undocumented immigrant and sent her to a medium-security jail.
So when Mrs. Villegas went into labor on the night of July 5, she was handcuffed and accompanied by a deputy as she was taken by ambulance to Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. Cuffs chaining her foot to the hospital bed were opened when she reached the final stages of labor, Mrs. Villegas said.In the past two years, 57 municipalities have signed 287G agreements allowing them to enforce federal immigration laws. Under the agreements, local police officers can perform background checks after arresting any foreign-born person. Clearly, as Juana's case shows, local law enforcement can all-too-easily abuse their undeserved federal powers.
“I felt like they were treating me like a criminal person,” Mrs. Villegas said, speaking in Spanish in a telephone interview. The phone in her room was turned off, and she was not permitted to speak with her husband when he came to retrieve their newborn son from the hospital on July 7 as she returned to jail, she said.
As Mrs. Villegas left the hospital, a nurse offered her a breast pump but a sheriff’s deputy said she could not take it into the jail, Mrs. Villegas said.
Mr. Ozment, the lawyer, said Mrs. Villegas would never have been detained without the 287G cooperation agreement.
“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,” Mr. Ozment said.
Immigrant, Pregnant, Is Jailed Under Pact [The New York Times]
(Photo: Josh Anderson)