On Tuesday, Maria Gurrolla of Nashville Tennessee went through every mother’s worst nightmare. Not only was she brutally attacked and stabbed multiple times, but her attacker kidnapped Gurrolla’s four day old baby, Yair Anthony Carrillo.
Before I jump into the details of why this story is showing up on an immigration blog, just take a moment to think about this. A four day old child has been taken away from his mother. How many of you have seen a newborn when they are only hours old? Terrifying that this child has been torn away from his only lifeline (and chance for survival) only days into his life. Can you imagine?
The twist here is that Gurrolla’s attacker was a woman disguised as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. This woman preyed on the fear facing many Latinos in the United States at the moment because she knew she could. I think that Nezua, at the Unapologetic Mexican encapsulates this best on his post from yesterday:
THE PROBLEM with instituting a terror program such as the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE has done—wherein violence, raids, SWAT team-like tactics or routine demands for “Your Papers” are normalized—is that it not only models gross behavior as a moral compass for the rest of the nation, but it also sends a message to Latinos and immigrants that they should expect and submit to this type of behavior whenever it comes their way.
I think that this connection must be made.
In an AP article about the kidnapping of baby Yair, this quote stood out to me:
Immigrants must be taught to trust U.S. law enforcement and criminals can take advantage of their fears of deportation or police, said Yuri Cunza, president of Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and publisher of La Noticia, a Spanish language newspaper in Nashville.
Why, exactly, would immigrants “learn” to trust law enforcement after they’ve seen stories like the one from last summer, where a woman in Nashville named Juana Villegas de la Paz was shackled to her hospital bed while giving birth due to suspicions about her immigration status.
The continued dehumanization of immigrants and the continued conflation of [Latino = immigrant] in the minds of Americans will foster more and more incidents like this. A precedent has been set and it is up to us and the current administration to break that precedent. It is not up to immigrants to “learn” to trust law enforcement as Mr. Cunza has stated above. It is up to law enforcement to gain that trust.
In the mean time, I’ll be praying for baby Yair’s safe return.