Pharos-Tribune

Columns

October 24, 2013

CEPEDA: The wrong focus on Baby Hope

(Continued)

Yes, the authorities speculate that worries about legal status came into play. But there were obviously many layers of dysfunction in the family that fed into the group silence. These include broken marriages, sibling alliances, long estrangements, shifting households and other turmoil — all of which can be found with alarming regularity in the native-born population.

Margarita Castillo told Spanish-language reporters from Telemundo that she didn’t even know that two of her daughters were missing. Castillo said her husband had taken the two youngest of their three daughters to live with him and that she believed they were in his care. Castillo hadn’t seen Anjelica since the child was 1.

When pressed about why she didn’t go to police when one daughter, but not Anjelica, was returned to her, she replied that she “was scared to not be heard, of not knowing the language ... that was my error.” Though it’s reasonable to imagine how immigration status could have played into her fears, Castillo didn’t mention it as a reason for her inaction.

In truth, though it’s a terribly sad incident, there are no policy implications to be drawn from this case.

Whenever something — anything, whether good or bad — happens in the Latino community, people try to use it to reinforce their longstanding stereotyped beliefs.

If a Latino donates a kidney to his or her sick mother, it’s not just about universal parent-child bonds but Hispanics’ legendary love of their families. Likewise, when a Latino man does something heinous, it feeds the narrative that immigrants are dangerous.

There were those who strained to put Ariel Castro — the Cleveland kidnapper who kept three neighborhood women in captivity for years — into the neat box of “violently criminal immigrant,” but it was to no avail. Castro was a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico who spent almost his entire life in Ohio.

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