Case of woman in custody during childbirth moves forward

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 1:51am
Staff reports

The case of Juana Villegas, the illegal immigrant who gave birth in sheriff’s department custody in July 2008, shined a harsh light on the controversial 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement to screen arrestees for immigration violations.

In March 2009, Villegas filed a federal lawsuit seeking to change how immigration enforcement is handled nationwide. Her lawsuit asked the court to award damages and rule on the legality of 287(g).

Two filings this week, the most recent of more than 50 recorded in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, requested a settlement conference to determine a schedule of pre-trial deadlines.

Judge William Haynes granted the order on Tuesday.

The setting of deadlines could mean the case against Metro Nashville, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, et al, is beginning to move forward — albeit slowly.

Villegas’ lawsuit described in great detail her arrest by a Berry Hill police officer during a routine traffic stop, how she was shackled during labor and denied use of a breast pump during post-partum detention.

The sheriff’s department and Berry Hill police initially said that officers followed proper immigration procedures although the county did change its policy on how it handles inmates who go into labor in custody.

Eventually, Villegas had the original traffic charge dismissed because the Berry Hill officer reportedly did not fill out the citation correctly.

The deportation process was begun for Villegas but charges were dropped.

More stories on the Juana Villegas case are available here.

12 Comments on this post:

By: on 3/3/10 at 4:49

look like the ilegal emigrants ruling our life our city our country, i'm amrican and i pay for my mistake on trafic was no mercy on me with no radar i was found guilty for speeding???????????? the judge colecting money for metro no meter what, and the police oficer dismissed the trafic charges this is a joke, he was intimidated by the emigration ruling or what, put the officer in jail who dare to stop an illegal emigrant and force him to speak spanish, our proud illegal speaking english for which you have to press 2 or 3, por favor presione (uno) 1 pero y mehicano , are we nuts

By: beancounter25 on 3/3/10 at 6:30

Wow. Learn to write.... and spell.

By: Capiscan on 3/3/10 at 7:23


English is clearly not your forte. The article isn't about your speeding ticket. Back up and regroup.

By: bfra on 3/3/10 at 7:34

As she is an illegal, why is she even still in the Country?

By: TN4th on 3/3/10 at 8:29

Wow, I'm so impressed by the human compassion shown by bfra and gigibagoly, as well as the high degree of literacy shown by gigi... I bet on every other day they are all for "protecting life," as long as it's good ole American life. Anyone else's life, well, not so much. And I bet gigi... crumbs about people coming to this country and not learning English. You are describing yourself, dude.

By: BEOWULF on 3/3/10 at 8:40

BEOWULF: Think U "commentores" are missing "gigibagoly's" point. Comprende, ustedes? Este es para los illegales: If a real American citizen breaks the law, there are consequences. Like "bfra" says...why is she...? Look, folks; our ultra liberal US govt. will eventually "forgive" the illegals, give them blanket citizenship, all the benefits WE can't pay for, and create a voting bloc that will force US citizens into pure SOCIALISM. Right is Right; Wrong is Wrong; yes, ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL. Get it? OUT OUT OUT!

By: bfra on 3/3/10 at 8:50

This woman had already been deported once, that shows how much respect she had for the laws in this Country, when she came back.

If "Heaven forbid", she comes out with a big $$$$ settlement, other than her money grubbing lawyers fees, is she going to repay the taxpayers for all the free social services she and her 4 kids have used?

By: sidneyames on 3/3/10 at 9:19

bfra, no she is not going to "repay the taxpayers for all the free social services she and her 4 kids have used?"
She is going to get a house, a car, a big screen t.v., tons of new clothes, toys for the kids, diamonds, send some to her family in what ever foreign city she is from, and do a trip.

Then later when she runs through that money, she' will get some more free stuff from us. And she will get free medical. By then, she'll probably have 2-4 more babies.

And now you can buy a lottery ticket for wed and a lotto ticket for Tues and win millions. Yeah right!

By: Siobhanne on 3/3/10 at 9:24

I agree that putting someone in shackles during childbirth is a little "over the top". Shackles are for restraining someone. A woman who is in active labor and childbirth is not going far. Now before and after.. that is completely different. Actions do have consequences and no one is above the law. I do believe that if immigration laws were reformed then situations such as this would happen far less. For one, I don't believe that citizenship should be given to a person by virtue of birth alone. One's parents should be legal citizens for a child to be considered an American. I do not believe that illegal immigrants or offspring of illegal immigrants should receive social services. If a non-citizen chooses to live and work in the U.S. then there are ways that he or she can do so legally. I have friends who are not American citizens but came here LEGALLY. It is quite possible to do. They work, pay taxes, have health insurance and are not on welfare, foodstamps or WIC.

By: localboy on 3/3/10 at 9:46

Sidneyames may have it right...which will make Ms. Villegas as productive as many native-born citizens. She'll spend the money here and help pump up the economy, which is exactly what all card-carrying members of the Partido Viejo Grande want.

By: Blogmaster on 3/3/10 at 10:28

Gigibagoly - I'm not even going to go there. Beowulf - he was an epic hero who gave of himself repeatedly, and finally made the ultimate sacrifice in helping others who were less fortunate and/or able than he (and foreign btw)... I submit the s/n maybe a tad out of place here. And as a voice of reason, another mate thinks "shackles during childbirth are a little 'over the top'"... what exactly is your definition of torture??? What planet are these people from - to paraphrase John Denver, thank God I'm a city, educated, and non-xenophobic boy! I'm perfectly happy to see this woman clean out as much from our/my government as possible if that government would empower and/or defend these jack-booted, color-blinded fascists - it should make government think a little harder about how it would select and train officers, and treat all of the people they serve. In case you all forgot, there's only one group of original legal Americans before colonial powers decided to forcibly eradicate them in order to gain property and power - something I suspect is not far from the top wish list for large portions of this audience - and I suspect that most of the commenters here (including myself) are similar beneficiaries of those immigrants, leaving us in a very poor position to argue the merits of isolation...

By: sidneyames on 3/3/10 at 11:43

localboy on 3/3/10 at 9:46
Sidneyames may have it right...which will make Ms. Villegas as productive as many native-born citizens. She'll spend the money here and help pump up the economy, which is exactly what all card-carrying members of the Partido Viejo Grande want.

Localboy, I was being sarcastic. Sorry that didn't come across. In other words, she will blow the money. She will NOT establish a retirement account, a college fund or an emergency fund. As well, she will not get medical or life insurance.

Sorry I didn't make myself clear.

I say, send her home to Mexico on a bus with all 4 kids.