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.