Monday, July 21, 2008

Woman Gives Birth Under Torture: Homeland Security Hell

Is Naomi Wolf's predicted "fascist shift" accelerating, using the anti-migrant controversy as another "facilitating issue"?

As The NYT reported Sunday, a simple traffic stop of Juana Villegas, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was nine months pregnant, turned into another case of Homeland Security Hell, of criminalizing poverty or the "crime" of not having "proper paperwork", in this case by torture.

But this was first reported at Political Salsa on June 13th by Tim Chavez, who heard her and described the torture, reminding him of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. It seems the war supposedly started to combat terrorism has now come home to torment anyone without the right paperwork: without papers, they're demons...
But is this even more sinister??

And so that - or what? - justifies this:

* A woman, three days before delivery of her fourth AMERICAN child, was wrongly arrested and incarcerated.

* Her water broke while she was in jail; she was transported to Metro General Hospital.

* When the nurse asked her to undress to get into hospital clothes, the sheriff's guard was asked to leave for the moment. He -- yes, he -- refused. So she had to undress in front of him. I don't know about your culture, but in the Mexican culture and Mexican-American culture, that is a highly offensive affront to our women, no to mention our mothers.

* Then, while in labor, she was handcuffed by her wrist and ankle to the bed. I've seen women in labor, and they constantly are shifting positions to try and get some sense of relief, if that is even possible. Now consider the pain if handcuffs prevented your movement.

* Thankfully, the handcuffs were taken off two hours before she delivered. But then she was restrained again in bed a day later. And every trip to the bathroom required leg shackles. When the nurse strongly objected, the sherrif's department stayed absolute. The nurse said the new mother would not be able to clean herself properly with shackles. The sheriff's guard said it didn't matter; he was doing his job.

Didn't we hear that excuse before at Nuremberg? Never forget; we still hardly remember. Our Jewish brothers and sisters deserve better from us.

* It also didn't matter if the baby received the critical mother's milk in its first days of life. The child was removed from its mother, and Ms. DeLaPaz was returned to jail.

* The final injury inflicted upon this CIVIL/MISDEMEANOR offender was the denial of her use of a breast pump to express her milk for the baby and her own comfort. The nurse again strongly objected, but the sheriff's department again played law enforcer, physician and God.

* Ms. DeLaPaz returned to her jail cell in great pain from her swollen breasts. She could not sleep due to the agony.

* Meanwhile, her infant son was taken to a pediatrican. There he was tested and found to have a blood level containing a high measurement of a dangerous chemical that produces jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. My father had jaundice before he died of cancer, so the condition denotes the medical seriousness of the moment.

The child's condition was due to a lack of mother's milk.

When the government can keep a mother from her newborn infant and prevent the baby from being breastfed because of some law, the law itself creates a crime. When being or appearing to be Hispanic leads to criminal investigation after a traffic stop, something is racist and wrong. When xenophobia creates anti-migration laws so draconian they criminalize what was once a civil matter, we end up with Homeland Security Hell.

"Illegal immigration" is violation of paperwork, not an act against another person. It was always civil, until manic Republicans criminalized it. And so human beings are fodder for someone's paranoid insanity-created law. The law itself becomes a source for inhumanity and crime.

Welcome to Homeland Security Hell.

The NYT sees it as a problem created locally by cooperation between local and federal authorities, and didn't specifically call it "torture":

Mrs. Villegas’s arrest has focused new attention on a cooperation agreement signed in April 2007 between federal immigration authorities and Davidson County, which shares a consolidated government with Nashville, that gave immigration enforcement powers to county officers. It is one of 57 agreements, known formally as 287G, that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has signed in the last two years with county and local police departments across the country under a rapidly expanding program.

“Had it not been for the 287G program, she would not have been taken down to jail,” said A. Gregory Ramos, a lawyer who is a former president of the Nashville Bar Association. “It was sold as something to make the community safer by taking dangerous criminals off the streets. But it has been operated so broadly that we are getting pregnant women arrested for simple driving offenses, and we’re not getting rid of the robbers and gang members.”

But in fact it goes much deeper. ICE is the enforcement arm of the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security). Under the anti-terrorist federal overhaul and the creation of the DHS, there is a mandate to "bring people in" in order to stay funded. This started with Gitmo and renditions and has, as Naomi Wolf predicted, come home to a town hear you. It's the ideology where We Americans are the Good Guys that need to Lock Up the Other Non-Americans, the Bad Guys. It starts with terror suspects, expands into immigrants, and catches stray "liberals" and other "dangerous" types. Soon, as Tim Chavez pointed out,

But beware, if your wife unknowingly is driving through a part of Berry Hill. And with her dark hair and new tan she got at Destin, she may look Hispanic from a distance.

Just pray that she isn't pregnant and about to deliver. Don't let her drive in Nashville after the fifth month of pregnancy just to be on the safe side. For sure, keep her out of south Nashville and ultimately out of the hands of Sheriff Daron Hall's department.

Viewed in light of Naomi Wolf's "Fascist America in Ten Easy Steps", the incident is even more ominous. Carolyn Baker, in her review of Wolf's book The End Of America: Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot discusses this aspect of the overall change in law enforcement techniques, which seems not to be limited to only "287G", as the NYT would like us to believe:

Some of my students who are criminal justice majors tell me that the latest strategies now being taught to police officers are "shock doctrine" techniques which terrorize and intimidate civilians in order to control them. Law enforcement officers are no longer encouraged to "keep a cool head" but to "follow their own instincts" (which usually means their own internal, adrenaline-charged state of terror) and react with full force because it's easier to apologize (or encounter a lawsuit) than to ask permission or risk being killed. Terrified people should not be wearing a badge and carrying a gun, and when they are, a fully terrorized society is guaranteed.

It could be ... Los Angeles? New Jersey? Miami? Omaha? Why not? Every town now has a Joint Terrorist Task Force and an ICE team, looking for some suspects to round up. The rules that apply here are "protect Us." And "lock up Them."

And who are "them"?
Them "R" Us.


Bluey said...

This is terrible, but being handcuffed to the bed is not torture, and as the article says, she wasn't handcuffed to the bed during labour, unlike the hyperbolic title says.

Also, talk about Godwinising your own post (the person quoted, not this blog)

Omyma said...

This issue was discussed vigorously at my cross-post at dkos here:

where i more or less acknowledged the hyperbole issue but facts show she WAS leg-cuffed to the bed during labor, only allowed bathroom visits, and other factors make the entire experience extremely abusive. Defining "torture" is a debatable point, but without it, who would even read this?

Anonymous said...

wow, i wish we couldn've handcuffed the illegal who had a C-section on your dime on the 2nd and the other illegal who gave birth to a little nino on the 5th, and another who had ER care and went 'home' on the 5th. All three were thieves stealing from your pocket stealing from your kids. handcuffed and tossed their butts back over the border.

Anonymous said...

Unless you were paying for their hospital bills, I hardy see how it was on "your dime".