ICE: Pregnant Women No Longer Automatically Released

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has further closed its positions of obedience to the Trump Administration by announcing that a new detention policy regarding pregnant women will be put in place.

The policy change directs officers to keep more pregnant women in custody while providing them with medical attention, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement directive finalized in December.

In an email sent directly to Talking Points Memo, the agency said that "to better align the President's Executive Order, ICE has ended to the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees".

ICE will also lean towards releasing pregnant women if they are in their third trimester, Miller said mainly because they would not be allowed to fly and thus couldn't be deported in that trimester, and will also make an effort for detention facilities to provide services to pregnant women and parents.

"All across our enforcement portfolio, we're no longer exempting any individual from being subject to the law", said Philip Miller, deputy executive associate director of ICE's enforcement and removal operations.

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 USA, facilities that are already decried by critics for tough conditions.

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"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.

"To miscategorize this as some wholesale change, or some kind of draconian act is really hyperbole", he told reporters on a conference call.

Some pregnant immigrants can still be automatically released. "By the way, pregnant women need specialized care". And as of March 20, there were 35 pregnant women in ICE's custody.

Over the past year or so, several horror stories from pregnant women held in detention have surfaced. A Salvadoran rape survivor said she was held at Houston's Joe Corley Detention Center for six months after she found out she was pregnant and requested her release.

USA officials said it was unclear how many women would be affected by the new policy.

Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission, which was also part of the complaint, said ICE did not notify her organization after the directive in December, even though the two groups have been in communication with each other. 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.

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