ICE Ends Policy Of Presuming Release For Pregnant Detainees

Provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE said Thursday that pregnant women are no longer automatically released as a matter of immigration enforcement policy, a reversal by President Donald Trump's administration from Obama-era measures.

Based on internal documents reviewed by the publication, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will treat pregnant women they detain the same as all others.

Miller said there are 35 pregnant women in ICE custody today, all of them now subject to mandatory detention, despite the fact that some of them may be pregnant because of rape and assault, Reuters reported.

HuffPost noted Thursday that several prominent immigrant and refugee advocacy groups and the ACLU complained late previous year that ICE wasn't following its own policy - nor independent medical standards - for pregnant women. Not all pregnant immigrants will be detained, but emphasis will be placed on people whose detention "is necessary to effectuate removal" and others who may be flight risks or a danger to the community.

The four-page policy directive and an appending FAQ indicates that the ICE agency will make a "case-by-case custody determination" in releasing pregnant detainees.

ICE said the change was made to "better align" with an executive order issued by Trump in January a year ago, which broadly enabled immigration enforcement agencies to more strictly follow immigration laws. "Not detaining a pregnant woman doesn't mean she won't have to go through the immigration legal process".

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Since then, more than 500 women were taken into custody in the first three months of 2018. "We're aligning this policy, as we have with all of our policies, with the direction from the president".

ICE included Dr. Ada Rivera, the director of medical services for the agency, on the call to explain the services that will be provided for women in custody. Report after report from immigrants' rights watchdog groups have been critical of ICE's ability to provide health care to detainees.

According to CNN, this change in detention policy "could pave the way for more pregnant women to be held in detention facilities while they await lengthy judicial proceedings about whether they can stay in the USA, facilities that are already decried by critics for tough conditions".

This policy endangers the lives of pregnant women, subjecting them to harmful and prolonged periods of detention. When a detention facility is unable to provide appropriate medical care in a particular case, the directive approves of sending pregnant detainees to "another detention facility or off-site treatment facility that can provide appropriate medical care".

For cases such as Jacinta's, and as the Huffington Post continues, "several human rights organizations filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security in September on behalf of pregnant women detained by ICE".

Such claims are "ludicrous", said Katie Shepherd, a lawyer with the American Immigration Council. Since December, 506 pregnant women have been detained, Miller added.

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