UNITED STATES: Mother told 'learn English' or lose custody

March 2, 2005

A young Mexican immigrant reported to the Department of Children's Services for not immunizing her toddler was ordered by a Tennessee judge to learn English, and to use birth control, in January. In October, the judge, Barry Tatum, told another mother that if she could not speak English to fourth-grade level by her next hearing in four months, he would commence proceedings to terminate her parental rights. It is not uncommon in the US for juvenile court judges to give lifestyle advice, which takes on the force of a court order. Justifying his rulings, Tatum told the Lebanon Star that US citizens "risk losing out in all the opportunities if they are not assimilated into our culture".

From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.
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