The Border Patrol gave one of its agents in New Mexico woman an ultimatum: Take care of her job or take care of her child.
Sophia Cruz, who worked at the Border Patrol station in the small town of Lordsburg about two hours west of El Paso, said all she was just trying to do was protect her breast milk for her newborn baby, but her supervisor wasn’t having it.
“All I wanted to do was nurse my daughter,” Cruz said, according to local TV station KOB4. “And all I wanted to do was be a mom and an agent.”
The Border Patrol fired Cruz in April when she refused to take a test to keep her firearms certification current.
The new mother argues that the agency ignored the recommendations of her doctor that she should not wear the tight-fitting armored vest for extended periods of time since it could hinder the flow of her breast milk, that she should work light duty, avoid altercations and night shifts. Cruz also said that the Border Patrol never set up the test and never supplied her with a new armored vest that’s required to take the test.
“They kept using the word recommendations, that the doctors were merely making recommendations,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s lawyer, Ray Martinez, presented the case to an arbitrator, where he argued that Cruz merely wanted the agency to follow guidelines established in 2011 through its "Lactation Support Program," or LSP.
The program offers a “reasonable break time” for employees who are nursing mothers up to one year after they give birth and that the agency needs sanitized lactation rooms – restrooms don’t count – in which employees can pump breast milk and store it in a small refrigerator.
“I think basically the evidence and testimony that was presented in this case laid out pretty clearly that they treated her differently, they treated her negatively,” Martinez said.
The Border Patrol declined to comment on Cruz’s case, as it is still in court, but issued a statement to KOB4.
“Customs and Border Protection is dedicated to the health and well-being of all of its employees and is constantly looking for programs and initiatives that positively impact their work environment,” the agency said.
“The Lactation Support Program is one such program that was designed to enhance the quality of work life for employees who are nursing mothers. CBP understands the stress and challenges of having a new baby and is concerned for the health and well-being of all employees by providing needed worksite assistance," the statement contined.
Cruz, who is pregnant with her second child, said all she wants is her job back and for the agency to follow its own rules.