Mississippi authorities took a newborn baby from her Mexican immigrant mother and placed the daughter with two white Gulf Coast lawyers who frequently practiced law before the youth court judge who approved the child’s removal. The mother was then prohibited from speaking publicly about her family’s ordeal despite her request to waive confidentiality rules of the youth court.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family and appealed the earlier gag order. The suit charges that the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), two of its employees and an employee of Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Miss., conspired to take Cirila Baltazar Cruz’s baby and that the MDHS failed to properly investigate the false allegations made against her.
Baltazar Cruz was reunited with her daughter in November 2009 shortly after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service¹s (HHS) Office for Civil Rights and Administration for Children and Families. A letter from the HHS to the executive director of the Mississippi DHS noted that the state failed to comply with several requirements under federal law and regulations.
The letter said that the federal agency has “grave concerns” about the case. “The MDHS staff interviewed did not see these issues as problematic,” the letter says. “This leads us to conclude that this may be how business is conducted and that this is not an isolated incident.”