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ICE: Trump's Immigration Policy Means We'll Jail More Pregnant Women

02 April 2018

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is ending their policy of releasing pregnant immigrants.

According to the new directive, immigration officers will no longer default to trying to release pregnant women who fall into immigration custody, either because they are undocumented or otherwise subject to deportation. She said all women of child-bearing age are tested for pregnancy at the beginning of their detention and ICE provides onsite care and education in addition to off-site access to specialized medical care.

Homan's memo, entitled "Identification and Monitoring of Pregnant Detainees", reverses guidance put forth by former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the Obama administration, which stated, "Absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, pregnant women will generally not be detained by ICE".

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". "Instead, as with all detainees except those in cases of mandatory detention, ICE will complete a case-by-case custody determination taking any special factors into account".

Since 2011, ICE had allowed the release of pregnant women from detention centers, the Huffington Post recalls and provided some exemptions for security threats. In practice, ICE detained more than 500 pregnant women in 2016, the last full year the policy was in effect.

"To miscategorize this as some wholesale change, or some kind of draconian act is really hyperbole", he told reporters on a conference call. Report after report from immigrants' rights watchdog groups have been critical of ICE's ability to provide health care to detainees.

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Immigrants' rights advocates have said it is risky to women and their unborn children to hold them in custody. "We're aligning this policy, as all of our policies, with executive orders from the President". "Suddenly, starting in July or August, we started to hear of more and more cases [of pregnant women in detention]", Katharina Obser of the Women's Refugee Commission, a national organization, told the Texas Observer last October.

ICE has come under previous criticism for its tough-nosed approach to immigration enforcement under Trump's direction, particularly its decision to separate family members in custody.

"Being in detention is not an appropriate setting for not just a pregnant woman, but a pregnant woman who may or may not be pregnant as a result of a significant trauma like that", she said.

Thursday's announcement prompted further backlash, and Philip Miller, the Deputy Executive Associate Director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, pushed back on the criticism. Since December, 506 pregnant women have been detained, Miller added.

Such claims are "ludicrous", said Katie Shepherd, a lawyer with the American Immigration Council.

ICE: Trump's Immigration Policy Means We'll Jail More Pregnant Women