New Directive Allows ICE Officers to Arrest Pregnant Illegal Immigrants

Provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Author

01 April, 2018

This reverses an Obama-era directive that allowed for the automatic release of pregnant immigrants who were placed in detention. Between October 2016 and September 2017, a total of 525 pregnant detainees were taken into ICE custody, the Los Angeles Times reported, with 33 still detained by late September.

The Hill reports that the Trump administration will be overturning a previous policy that excused pregnant women from immigration detention.

"This new ICE policy memo confirms our fears that the government is continuing its barbaric policy of detaining pregnant women despite substantial evidence that detention of this particularly vulnerable population has been linked to serious health implications to the mother and unborn child and also constitutes a significant barrier to receiving a meaningful day in court", Katie Shepherd, a legal advocate for asylum-seeking women at the American Immigration Council, told the publication.

The policy overturned former President Barack Obama's orders to ICE to mainly detain and deport criminals and those who had recently crossed the border, the Post said.

Since then, more than 500 women were taken into custody in the first three months of 2018.

The changes came after President Donald Trump's Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which directs ICE to remove all undocumented immigrants from the country. Women in their third trimester will be exempt from detention.

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"Women miscarried, did not get prenatal care, had medical emergencies" in immigration detention facilities, tweeted Victoria Lopez of the ACLU's National Prison Project.

This will imply, in Bennet's words, that "pregnant aliens would be detained if their detention is necessary to effectuate removal or if they are deemed a flight risk or danger to the community". The old policy stated that pregnant women were generally not detained, unless it was mandatory by law or warranted under "extraordinary circumstances". Two women told HuffPost they lost pregnancies at ICE detention centers a year ago.

The change in policy was sent by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to Congress on Thursday morning and later announced in a conference call with reporters.

Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission, which was also part of the complaint, said ICE did not notify her organization after the directive in December, even though the two groups have been in communication with each other.

She said it is impossible to know for sure whether the number of pregnant detainees will go up, but "it's pretty clear that the intent is to reduce the number of pregnant women who are released".

Critics of the change say that ICE detention centers are not equipped to handle the medical needs of pregnant immigrants.


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