June 24, 2018

ICE ends policy of automatically releasing some pregnant detainees

01 April 2018, 12:12 | Simon Arnold

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has acknowledged a new policy, implemented late a year ago, that allows for the increased detainment of pregnant women.

"The insane thing about it is they're claiming it's because they should be treated like everyone else and that they're going to go after everybody who has immigration status issues, but the reality is that those aren't your only options", Brané said.

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. "ICE has ended the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees", the agency wrote on its website, explaining the changes.

The new policy was outlined in an internal ICE memo, and reported Thursday by The Daily Beast.

While authorities made clear that it would review cases individually and that officers may consider pregnancy, the new policy shifts the focus more toward detention.

"ICE's official policy change towards pregnant women is inhumane and barbaric as it exposes this already vulnerable population to increased risk of harm and will undoubtedly lead to more miscarriages in detention centers and other pregnancy complications", she told Anadolu Agency.

ICE said the change was made to "better align" with an executive order issued by Trump in January previous year, which broadly enabled immigration enforcement agencies to more strictly follow immigration laws. A top ICE officer, Philip Miller, told CNN that he disagreed that the change represented a targeted crackdown on pregnant immigrants. Immigrants rights advocates say detaining women make them more likely to miscarry. "This does not mean that all pregnant aliens will be detained; only those whose detention is necessary to effectuate removal, as well as those deemed a flight risk or danger to the community". The policy was first finalized in December, officials said.

"The Women's Refugee Commission has long documented the risky and unhealthy detention conditions that are especially unsafe and inappropriate for pregnant women", Brané said in a statement.

"It's basically a different starting point", said Michelle Brané, the Women's Refugee Commission's director of migrant rights and justice program and a frequent critic of immigration detention. "Many women are pregnant as a result of rape and violence that they experienced either on the journey to the USA or that may be part of an asylum claim".

The Trump administration has pushed ICE to expand the use of detention for immigrants subject to deportation, in an effort to cut down on the number allowed to live in the United States as they await court proceedings. "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".

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