The Trump administration has chosen to take yet another step in ending the flood of illegal aliens flooding across the Southern border of the United States and ending a policy that exempted pregnant women from immigration detention.
Under the new policy to be implemented, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will treat pregnant detainees as they would any other, with the exception for providing necessary medical care and keeping a record of pregnant women while in ICE custody. The change was set in place by an internal directive issued in December by ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. The policy change has been dubbed “Identification and Monitoring of Pregnant Detainees.”
This new directive supersedes the previous policy issued by Homan in 2016.
The new policy states that “absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, pregnant women will generally not be detained by ICE.” The new policy change is absent much of the previous language used by then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Obama administration in a 2016 memo heavily borrowed from concerning the changes. The changes went into full effect just this past Thursday.
ICE publicly announced the new directive – “ICE has ended the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees,” the agency wrote on its website, explaining the changes. “Instead, as with all detainees, absent the requirements of mandatory detention, ICE will complete a case-by-case custody determination taking any special factors into account. ICE detention facilities will continue to provide onsite prenatal care and education, as well as remote access to specialists for pregnant women who remain in custody. In addition, ICE ensures access to comprehensive counseling and assistance, postpartum follow up, and in certain cases, abortion services.”
“Philip Miller, a Deputy Exec Associate Director at ICE, explained that the period between Homan’s directive and enactment of the policy was allowed so the agency could have the proper training and infrastructure in place to handle pregnant women.
The email says that detention of pregnant women will serve to “better align with the President’s Executive Order.”
Trump signed an executive order in January 2017, tightening the way ICE conducts immigration operations and increasing the universe of immigrants deemed a priority for removal.”
An internal email was sent to ICE to complete a “case-by-case custody determination taking any special factors into account” when processing pregnant detainees using a question and answer. The email also details that “absent extraordinary circumstances, ICE will not detain a pregnant alien during the third trimester of pregnancy” due to potential liability and complications while in custody.
Most detentions are used as a precursor to extraction and removal from the country. Deportation generally follows and “because [women with late-term pregnancies] are not cleared for flight, therefore it would be inappropriate to use our detention ability for someone we cannot remove.” The thought process is that once the child is born the potential for elevated risk to both the child and the mother decreases dramatically if detention and removal do not occur until after the child is born.
Many illegal aliens are considered a danger to society or an elevated flight risk and in terms of risk to the community, it is vital to consider the full picture. They look at criminal history, risk assessment on men and/or women that commit violent or heinous acts. Women are just as capable of committing violent or heinous acts.
USA Today states of the previous ICE policy and the reason it was necessary to change was that pregnant undocumented aliens being detained were allowed to be freed on bond or supervised release. But President Trump has ordered ICE to keep more undocumented immigrants in detention, arguing that too many are released and never appear for their deportation hearings.
The new policy, which was quietly signed three months ago, angered immigration advocates and human rights organizations.
“Americans should all be horrified at the thought of innocent pregnant women —many of whom fled violence and abuse in their home countries — languishing in what are essentially prisons,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection for Human Rights First.
ICE said the change was made to “better align” with an executive order issued by Trump in January last year, which broadly enabled immigration enforcement agencies to more strictly follow immigration laws. Philip Miller, a deputy executive associate director for ICE, told Reuters that 506 pregnant women have been detained by ICE since the new directive was first implemented back in December.
The Hill also reports –
“Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham(D-N.M.) called the policy change “cruel and unnecessary” and called for its immediate reversal.
“ICE’s policy change toward pregnant women is inhumane and will expose these women to potential harm and undoubtedly lead to more miscarriages and pregnancy complications,” said Lujan Grisham. “This reprehensible policy change follows a disturbing and growing trend by the Trump Administration to detain pregnant women, which has already led to alarming reports of miscarriages in immigration detention due to CBP and ICE’s inadequate medical care.”
ICE has been the target of severe criticism from immigrant rights and religious groups, particularly when officers have separated immigrant families in detention.
Homan — an Obama-era holdover — has taken a hard line against undocumented immigrants, saying they “should be afraid.”