Villegas lawyers sue for 287(g) case documents

Friday, November 6, 2009 at 2:18am

Attorneys for an illegal immigrant who was shackled during labor and gave birth in the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office have filed a motion in U.S. District Court to compel Metro government to produce documents related to her incarceration under the 287(g) program.

Juana Villegas De La Paz was pulled over in Berry Hill in July 2008 for careless driving — a charge that was later dropped. After what Villegas’ attorneys say was a two-hour stop for a minor traffic offense, Officer Tim Coleman arrested the woman, who was nine-months pregnant at the time, for failing to have proper identification under the auspices of the 287(g) program.

The incident drew national media attention, but in a motion filed Wednesday in district court, Villegas attorneys John Farringer, William Harbison and Phillip Cramer of Sherrard & Roe, as well as immigration lawyer Elliot Ozment, gave a more detailed and wrenching account of Villegas’ ordeal.

Her attorneys say that during her arrest by Coleman, Villegas was told she had “20 seconds to kiss her kids good-bye as she would not be seeing them again.”

Villegas was then taken to the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility in Nashville to be processed under 287(g), an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement under which the Sheriff’s Office checks the immigration status of prisoners accused of serious crimes for possible deportation.

DCSO officers reportedly determined she had been previously deported in 1996 and ICE placed a federal ‘detainer’ on Villegas, preventing her from posting bond.

After two days in jail, she went into labor in her cell and was shackled and transported to Metro General Hospital, the filing says. Upon arrival, Villegas’ attorneys allege she remained shackled at the hospital and “was not provided any privacy to change into a hospital gown…despite requests by nurses” and was not allowed to notify the father.

Ignoring the pleas of her nurses, as well as the order of the attending doctor, DCSO officers insisted that her right hand and left foot remain shackled to the hospital bed, the motion says.

Villegas’ attorneys do claim, however, that at least one DCSO officer unshackled Villegas during his shift and stood outside the door. But after she’d given birth to her son, Villegas was again shackled and wasn’t allowed to “walk around, loosen her muscles, take care of necessary post childbirth hygiene, and otherwise recover from her labor and delivery,” according to the filing.

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Karla Weikal and Ozment both declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of the suit.

Attorneys for Metro Nashville did not respond to requests for comment as of late Thursday.

Villegas has brought claims against Metro, ICE, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and individual, unnamed DCSO officers for violating her due process, for cruel and unusual punishment and “deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.”

Her attorneys also claim Metro Government hasn’t responded to discovery.

Before the new mother left Metro General, a nurse reportedly provided Villegas with a breast pump and moisturizers to allow her to express breast milk while she was separated from her newborn. Yet the motion claims a Sheriff’s deputy refused to allow her to use them.

“Because Ms. Villegas was not allowed to take the breast pump with her to the detention center, her breasts became swollen,” the filing says.

As a result, she suffered from excruciating pain that made moving agonizing and sleep nearly impossible, her attorneys contend, adding that she developed mastitis — an infection of the breast tissue caused by an inability to express breast milk.


14 Comments on this post:

By: glancaster on 11/6/09 at 7:34

This is all too much to comprehend the horrific injustice done to this woman, our fellow human being. Enough is enough. What is happening to our world? I hope that they get the person(s) and or agency(ies) responsible for these acts and make it right for her and her family.

By: confused on 11/6/09 at 8:43

Well it would be nice to live illegally in a country, without paying taxes. Prepare to give birth at a superior facitility, without the intention of paying for it. Know that what you're doing is wrong, without a care in the world. And after you get caught doing something ILLEGAL, and you are treated like the CRIMINAL you are, you sue everyone whose name or letters you can pronounce in hopes of creating your own American dream. Something tells me that the nurses and doctors care she received from the good folks at Metro General is superior to whatever country she left in order to break our laws.

By: confused on 11/6/09 at 8:50

On another note, i don't condone the mistreatment of others. And illegal immigration reformation is a far different story. But what should we have done? Put her up in the presidental sweet at Opryland to stay until birth. Then we can take her to Vanderbilt, get her a private room and cater to her every need. Then after three days we spank the baby on the butt, and send them out to never hear from them again until she has another child? We criticize our ancestors for living off the Native American's land. We pay restitution for what was basically breaking the law, taking what was theirs. Yet we allow illegal immigrants to do the very same thing today. Everyone wants to have it both ways!

By: asdfg on 11/6/09 at 9:12

I'm finding it really hard to get upset that a woman breaking our laws was treated as a criminal.

By: dwight14 on 11/6/09 at 9:31

yes she is a criminal...what i dont agree with is the way she was treated while giving birth...what was she gonna do,jump out the window? c'mon,they could have unchained her during the childbirth and allowed her to give birth and then cleaned up with a female officer keeping check...but yep,i tell her sorry about that,they were in the wrong,but dont expect a huge settlement...and your going back to jail and get treated like the criminal that you are...tough...but c'mon, they did go way overboard with the chaining and her treatment during childbirth...

By: shrub on 11/6/09 at 10:14

This is shameful treatment. Unconscionable. They don't treat animals this way. The traffic charges against the woman were dropped. There was no reason to treat her this way, and it's especially when the woman was giving birth!

By: oldhickorytony on 11/6/09 at 10:43

They mention the arrest took place in Berry Hill, but they don't mention that the arresting officer was a Berry Hill Barney Fife who doesn't know his head from his rear. Then she should have never been processed under 287(g) agreement, Then the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office screwed up BIG time at the hospital.

Bet Metro is nervous... very nervous... this stinks to high heaven!

By: tejano125 on 11/6/09 at 3:58

VIVA La Raza! It's about time Mexicans or Latinos are speaking up! There has to be justice done to these white cowards cops. They think that they can get away with beating people in handcuffs. It makes them feel VERY powerful. (Cowards). First they steal our land (Spanish Land Grants) and now they are still trying to get rid of us.
By the way for you people that think immigrants are Only Mexicans, get an education! Please look up the word: immigrant
Immigrants can be from any country, not just Mexico. They can be from Canada, Europe, Ireland, Germany, Cuba, China, Russia, England, or many different coutries.
I hope this helps the ignorant grandchildren of many immigrants that came over on the ship (to Ellis Island, NY) United States.

By: tejano125 on 11/6/09 at 4:06

Yes, tejano. I was born in Texas and so were my parents. I am a very proud Mexican American. So before you people tell me to go back to where I came from, I am not an immigrant. I am from the United States.
So, muchas Gracias!

By: bfra on 11/7/09 at 10:44

If she had been where she legally belonged, this wouldn't have happened. Her criminal record ( already deported once) is her own fault and she should shoulder the blame. The baby should also be classified "illegal". I am by no means a cruel or heartless person but facts are facts. Get use to it tejano, muchas stupid!

By: FAMUAce on 11/8/09 at 12:57

Having interacted with Villegas on a fairly consistent basis -- she was an assistant manager at a restaurant near my former place of employment -- I found her to be a very nice person. I am appalled at her treatment in this case. Has it even been proven that she was in the wrong? I saw that the charges against her were dropped. Also, regardless of a crime, NO ONE should be treated like that. Hardened criminals are treated better than the description of her treatment in this case.

By: Yonderis on 11/8/09 at 1:39

The only thing this woman should get is a one-way flight back to her own country. She can either take her anchor-baby with her or leave the child here to be adopted. Her choice. She came here illegally, took a job that an American or LEGAL immigrant should have had, received free medical care in a facility far superior than what she would have had in her own country. And we, the taxpayers, will have to pay for that.

She's here illegally. SHE HAS NO RIGHTS! None! She is a criminal. Yeppers. Handcuffed to the bed just like any other criminal. She's not the first criminal to give birth handcuffed to the bed. I'm sure she won't be the last.

And, while we're at it, jail those attornies who took this case, too. There are enough frivolous lawsuits cluttering the court calendar. No doubt they're just interested in lining their own pockets and it would be my guess that her claims are exaggerated anyway.

We're finally at least STARTING to crack down on these criminals coming into our country illegally and now they're whining as if they're the victims. We've been their victims for years. Financially and otherwise.

I'll have to find out who the judge is and notify friends to get busy on him or her. There is no way this case should be in court and there is no way that ANY Tennessee taxpayer should have to be responsible for paying this woman one thin dime.

Deport her!

By: tejano125 on 11/8/09 at 8:26

To bfra.
You're one of them that needs an education! How can her child be classified as an illegal if the child was born here, in Nashville, TN, USA?
How about your child being classified as an illegal.
I guess that would be a fact and muchas estupida to you!

By: Yonderis on 11/8/09 at 10:59

To tejano:

The child is NOT an illegal if born here in the United States. AT THIS TIME! The child is her "anchor-baby" to get benefits, etc. because the U.S. doesn't deport it's own citizens.

Until such time (hopefully soon - we're working on that) that automatic citizenship by birth is rescinded, illegals will continue to use childbirth (their children) as a means of attempting to stay here. A parent that "uses" their child - well, speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Time for them to make a choice. They're here illegally. They gave birth at no cost to themselves and at taxpayer expense. (Someone has to pay their bill for them.). Their choice is to take the "anchor-baby" back to their own country with them (if they actually love the child, want to raise the child and weren't just "using" the child) or give the child up for adoption before being deported.

As far as I'm concerned the child, sadly, is just as illegal as the illegal who gave birth to him/her. Were the mother here legally, then I'd say the child was born "legally" and deserving of rights of citizenship.

Muchas estupida is for some, like you, to think that this practice will go on forever and 12 million of you illegals will continue to take jobs from us and steal from us. THAT is muchas estupida.