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Nashville authorities have a lot of explaining to do to immigrant mother

LatinaLista — My old friend, Tim Chavez, who died from leukemia in May, and blogged about immigration issues in Tennessee at Political Salsa, used to tell me that he had a lot of work to do in his adopted city of Nashville.

Little did I realize what he meant.

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Back in September, the nation was transfixed over the brazen abduction of the infant son of Nashville resident Maria Gurrola by a woman posing as an immigration agent. The woman stabbed Gurrola nine times and took her infant with her when she left.

It took three hours for Nashville police to post an Amber Alert. By that time, the imposter had made her way back to her home in Alabama to set up her delusional life as a new mother.

Hours after being stabbed nine times on September 29, 2009, Maria Gurrola holds a press conference outside her hospital to ask the Nashville public’s help in finding her baby.

Finally, after several days, the baby was recovered. Yet, just as Gurrola was reunited with her infant son, the baby and his other siblings were taken from Gurrola and her husband by the Department of Children’s Services (DCS).

No explanation to Gurrola was given as to why her children were being placed in foster care. News reports were saying that the kidnapper claimed she bought the baby from Gurrola’s husband but even the reporters said a lot of the facts didn’t add up to support the woman’s story.

Finally, the authorities added it all up too.

The insensitivity and abuse of justice Gurrola was subjected to is a pattern that the woman and her lawyer say show how Nashville authorities unjustly and routinely target Latinos — and she’s filed a lawsuit to get answers.

Among the questions Gurrola wants answers to are:

Though the kidnapper faces federal kidnapping charges, why have local authorities not filed any charges of attempted murder or aggravated assault?

What was the incriminating ‘compelling evidence’ in the possession of legal authorities that made it necessary to seize the children on an emergency basis without first seeking even an ex parte hearing before a juvenile court judge or magistrate?

If this incriminating evidence was so ‘compelling’, why did the FBI state at the time the decision to seize the children, ‘As of now, there’s no indication that there’s an ongoing threat to the family?’

What attempts were made to measure and weigh the seriousness and credibility of this incriminating ‘compelling evidence’?

If attempts were made to measure and weigh the seriousness and credibility of this incriminating ‘compelling evidence’ involving baby trafficking, how did DCS and MNPD officials assess and account for the viciousness of the near-fatal attack on the accused mother who was stabbed nine times and left for dead bleeding on her kitchen floor by the same person who claimed the existence of a baby-selling scheme?

It’s obvious that, though the infant was found, the degree as to how swiftly the Nashville police and DCS targeted Gurrola and her husband in the aftermath calls into question their treatment of the couple, the handling of the publicity surrounding the case and their ability to be objective in dealing with an undocumented couple.

As of now, both the Nashville police and the DCS refuse to release their records on the case.

It’s been said that given the limited exposure state officials have had with Spanish-speaking immigrants and the fact that they don’t have enough, if anyone, on staff to communicate with immigrants like Gurrola, a natural ignorance of the culture has permeated the treatment they give people like her.

Ignorant or not, there is no justification to traumatize a woman and her children who have already suffered such a trauma.

Hard questions need to be asked of the DCS – in addition to taking away the children without a court order or the assumption that Gurrola was an unfit parent.

And hard questions need to be asked of a police department of a city where a growing segment of their population is Spanish-speaking and they don’t have anyone to communicate with them?

Forget cultural sensitivity training for the DCS and local authorities. They need sensitivity training on how to see that a mother who is beat up, stabbed nine times and just had her baby stolen from her is someone who is already victimized and doesn’t need additional victimization by the very people she turned to for help — regardless of the language she speaks or citizenship status.

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  • cookie
    December 16, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I would like to hear the other side of this story for clarification. It was terrible what happened to this woman but why do Latinos turn everything into a victimhood one?

  • El Guapo
    December 17, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Recent indictments tell us the local cops are going to be held accountable for their corruption. Maybe DOJ whould look into this matter too.

  • Texan123
    December 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Stop blaming the cops. They have to check out the story and determine the facts. Some people actually lie about child kidnappings in custody disputes. That was not the case here, but how are the cops supposed to know for sure?
    Why is it so unreasonable for people to learn English when they choose to live in this country? Do they not know anyone that can speak English? Not even school kids?
    I do not like having to pay for translators at every level of government, law enforcement, medical facility, school, pharmacy or food stamp program to make life easier for those who refuse to learn English and usually have no legal right to be in this country.
    Stop blaming law enforcement for not understanding a culture or language that is foreign to them. Take responsiblity for yourselves for a change.

  • David O. Garcia
    December 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Cookie you are a troll, posting idiotic comments to illicit attention.
    Marisa, it’s the South and things are probably going to get worse for Latinos as the immigration bill makes it’s way through congress. Thank you for bringing these stories to light.

  • cookie
    December 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

    David, so to express a different point of view is “trolling”? I am very concerned about this illegal immigrration mess that we are in and how it is affecting our country. I note that far to many Latino activists try to stifle the opposition by name calling, etc. You didn’t disappoint!
    Please point out my so-called idiotic remarks and tell me why they are viewed so. It is just a fact that Latinos call discrimination and injustice at every turn for their ENTIRE ethnic group even when they are only individual incidents.
    As Texan said law enforcement has to do their jobs. They aren’t always right about a situation but I don’t expect perfection from them anymore than I expect if from myself. If a white guy gets a bum deal from the law I am not going to scream discrimination for the ENTIRE white race. That is ridiculous.

  • maryelizabeth
    December 28, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    David I am going to help you out here: (It was terrible what happened to this woman but why do Latinos turn everything into a victimhood one?)<Cookie this is a really idiotic statement you just made.
    This woman was repeatively stabbed. If the writer is turning this article into victimhood it is fully warranted given this situation. This is a cold blooded crime. It was attempted murder Cookie! and it is obvious that the Nashville police made assumptions about the mother who was brutally assaulted.
    It always amazes me how retrictionists comment with a single line of sympathy after reading a “latina tradgedy” and then follow with a negative comment in the rest of the post. It is so pathetic! Cookie you lack a soul.

  • cookie
    December 29, 2009 at 8:03 am

    What is a restrictionist?
    My point was that every time a Latino is a victim of a crime, a fouled up investigation or questioning Latinos as a whole cry racism and discrimination aka victimhood for their entire ethnic group.
    Your crack about me being pathetic and having no soul was unwarrented. I care when people get hurt no matter what their race is but I am sick of the group whining by Latinos as if there is some giant plot against ALL Latinos.
    It was a crime. It happens to all racial groups believe it or not!

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