United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has typically released pregnant women from custody under a policy implemented by former President Barack Obama, but the Trump administration has effectively put that to an end, The Hill first reported Thursday. Women in their third trimester will be exempt from detention.
The change in policy could pave the way for more pregnant women to be held in detention facilities while they await lengthy court proceedings about whether they can stay in the U.S., facilities that are already decried by critics for tough conditions.
Under the new policy, ICE will detain "only those whose detention is necessary to effectuate removal, as well as those deemed a flight risk or danger to the community", according to a fact sheet obtained by HuffPost. The examples included instances of detainees' miscarriages in ICE custody.
The new policy comes as President Trump continues to tout his border wall proposal to crackdown on illegal immigration.
Pregnant detainees will now stay in ICE custody for immigration violations, amending nationwide detention standards, according to a new policy. A top ICE officer, Philip Miller, told CNN that he disagreed that the change represented a targeted crackdown on pregnant immigrants. 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". The old policy stated that pregnant women were generally not detained, unless it was mandatory by law or warranted under "extraordinary circumstances". The administration changed the Obama-era policy in December.
An official with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco apologized for posting an image on social media that drew criticism from a Muslim civil rights group.
In 2016, Thomas Homan, now the director of ICE and then the executive associate director, issued in a memo for agency staff that said "absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, pregnant women will generally not be detained by ICE".
A new effort to arrest pregnant illegal immigrants before they give birth in the USA appears to be working. The complaint alleged that ICE was failing to abide by its own policy against detaining pregnant women and that the women were not being given adequate care.
Calling it an "attack on women and children", Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at Women's Refugee Commission, said the organization "condems" the move.
US officials said it was unclear how many women would be affected by the new policy. She was one of ten women whose experiences were documented in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Office of the Inspector General in September previous year, describing poor medical treatment for women who were detained while pregnant or had recently suffered miscarriages.