US separates breastfeeding immigrant mother from 4-month-old daughter after mass workplace raids

Arrests in Mississippi were among largest immigrant operations in US history

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 19 August 2019 17:17 BST
Girl sobs as dad is taken during ICE raids in Mississippi

Twelve days after one of the largest workplace immigration raids in American history, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) still has a breastfeeding mother of a four-month-old girl in custody, according to her attorneys.

Maria Domingo-Garcia was among 680 undocumented immigrants who were detained by ICE on August 7 while working at a food processing plant in central Mississippi, and has been held at a facility in Louisiana since then.

The woman is a mother of three, and still breastfeeding her four-month-old daughter, her lawyers say. She would still be producing milk, which is likely to cause her pain and swelling if not expressed.

The three children were all born in the United States, and are therefore American citizens. Her husband is facing his own deportation proceedings, but has received limited relief until 2021 when he has his own hearing scheduled, according to the Clarion Ledger.

“They go to the park and relax so they will not feel the absence of the mom,” Roberto Mena, of St Michael’s Catholic Church in Forest, Mississippi, told that newspaper, translating for the father, whose identity was not disclosed.

“He has another boy who goes to school, so every time he comes from school, he asks, ‘What is the situation of the mom’”, Mr Mena said.

Around 300 of the undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE at the food processing plants have now been released, pending their deportation hearings.

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ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in a statement that all of the detainees were given medical screenings when they were brought in, and indicated in a statement to CNN that Ms Domingo-Garcia had said “no” when asked if she was breastfeeding.

But her lawyers have claimed that is not true, and that their client was not asked if she was breastfeeding.

Ms Domingo-Garcia is originally from Guatemala, and has been living in the United States for 11 years.

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