Federal immigration agents were searching a house in Ohio last month when they found a young Honduran woman nursing her baby.
The woman, Saída Umanzor, is an illegal immigrant and was taken to jail to await deportation. Her 9-month-old daughter, Brittney Bejarano, who was born in the United States and is a citizen, was put in the care of social workers.
Ms. Umanzor, 26, was arrested in her home on Maple Street in Conneaut, Ohio, on Oct. 26 and was released 11 days later on orders of Julie L. Myers, the head of the immigration agency. While in detention, Ms. Umanzor did not see her daughter Brittney, who had been fed only breast milk before her mother’s arrest. Ms. Umanzor remains under house arrest with Brittney and her two other children in Conneaut, 70 miles east of Cleveland, under an order for deportation. Her lawyer, David W. Leopold, has asked that her deportation be delayed on humanitarian grounds.
“….Just thinking that I was going to leave my little girl, I began to feel sick,” Ms. Umanzor said of the baby. “I had a pain in my heart.”
Ms. Umanzor turned over her daughters to social workers from the Ashtabula County Children Services Board, who had been summoned by the immigration authorities. In all, the social workers took in six children who lived in the Maple Street house, including Ms. Umanzor’s oldest child, a son born in Honduras. They also included three children of Ms. Umanzor’s sister, an illegal immigrant who was at work that day. Four of the children were born in the United States.
In jail and with her nursing abruptly halted, Ms. Umanzor’s breasts become painfully engorged. With the help of Veronica Dahlberg, director of a Hispanic women’s group in Ashtabula County, a breast pump was delivered on her third day in jail. Brittney, meanwhile, did not eat for three days, refusing to take formula from a bottle, Ms. Dahlberg said.