Breastfeeding Mother Brutally Separated From Her 4-Month-Old Daughter After ICE Raids

Breastfeeding Mother Brutally Separated From Her 4-Month-Old Daughter After ICE Raids

The mother is depressed and in a lot of pain as she's unable to breastfeed. She's constantly thinking of her four-month-old daughter. As per her lawyer, her every other word is "my daughter" and "she really needs me".

Earlier this month, a thoroughly planned raid conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers saw hundreds of undocumented residents separated from their children in Mississippi. Among them was a mother who was working at a food-processing plant and was forced to leave her breastfeeding 4-month old daughter behind reports the Clarion Ledger. The mother-of-three who has been working at Koch Foods in Morton for four years was arrested from her workplace and is now being held 200 miles away from Morton at a facility in Jena, Louisiana reports CNN



Following the arrest of Maria Domingo-Garcia on August 7, her devasted husband was left behind to raise their three children, including the toddler, on his own. Luckily, their two sons, ages 3 and 11, and daughter were born in the US. making them legal residents of the country. However, the family continues to face more complications as the father, who arrived in America 14 years ago from Guatemala, still awaits his own deportation hearing which is due in 2021. According to reports, the husband has spoken to his wife only once since her arrest as she did not have any money to make calls. "I will take care of the children and I will find out how the lawyers could help ... so donโ€™t worry. You are not alone," assured the Domingo-Garcia's husband. 



Of the 680 migrants who were taken into custody, around 300 were released on humanitarian grounds. Most of them were either pregnant or breastfeeding women. Unfortunately, it wasn't the case for Domingo-Garcia as her toddler still awaited her return. Attorneys Ray Ybarra Maldonado and Juliana Manzanarez of Justice for Our Neighbors, Texas, and it's program director Dalila Reynoso has been working with her family ever since. "It's absolutely a horrific and tragic situation this family is going through," Maldonado told CNN over a phone call on Sunday. "As a father and an immigration attorney it doesn't make sense to me."



Understanding the mother's plight, Maldonado added, "You're in a state of shock, you're in so much pain because you're away from your kids, especially a young baby." Manzanarez, who paid Domingo-Garcia a visit last Saturday revealed how the mother had been suffering from the after-effects of having to abruptly stop breastfeeding. "She is still really depressed. She is in a lot of pain because of not being able to pump or breastfeed," said Manzanarez.  She then recalled how all Domingo-Garcia could think of was her kids' well being. "Every other word was 'my daughter,' and, 'she really needs me,'" she said. 



Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman explained how every detainee received a medical screening upon their arrests. Many were released from custody due to various reasons, one of them being a nursing mother as they were considered as a mitigating factor in ascertaining detainment. He also indicated in a statement given to CNN on Sunday that Domingo-Garcia had answered "no" when asked if she was still breastfeeding. He also spoke of his inability to provide any detail regarding any person's medical information until he received a signed privacy waiver from them. 


Cox also confirmed that he was aware of the conversations that took place between Domingo-Garcia's attorneys and an ICE representative which claimed that she had answered "no" when asked about breastfeeding. However, Maldonado revealed that none of the officials had asked her that question. She relayed the same information to the husband.  Domingo-Garcia's attorney, Manzanarez claimed her client was only asked if she had a 4-month-old daughter by the staff at the detention center and she replied "yes."


An advocate working with other migrants detained in the Jena, Louisiana, facility, Reynoso shared Domingo-Garcia was the third person on a list of people the agency was reaching out to. After meeting Domingo-Garcia, the advocate revealed just how devastated the mother of three was. "She just had this lost look to her," she said. Expressing the distressing situation, Manzanarez said, "Distraught is an understatement," when talking about the father's condition, "He's turned upside down, he's trying to figure out how he's going to make it work now." 


After meeting with the family, Manzanarez shared how the 3-year-old doesn't really understand what is happening but he does feel his mother's absence. As for the 11-year-old, he knows why his mother has been taken away. "He knows, he's like, 'I want my mom back home. I don't understand why they're keeping here,' and, 'She didn't do anything wrong. We need her here,'" recalled Manzanarez. According to Maldonado, no date has been set for Domingo-Garcia's hearing even after having a detailed conversation with the officials from DHS over email. His team has been offering to pay the required bond for a hearing, however, the agency hasn't responded to this request yet. Thankfully,  Maldonado's team hasn't lost hope and will continue to offer to pay a bond so that the mother is released on her own recognizance until she gets a judge to hear her case.


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