Increasing Numbers of Pregnant Women Facing Harm in Detention

Increasing Numbers of Pregnant Women Facing Harm in Detention

September 26, 2017

The American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), and others filed this complaint on behalf of numerous women who are or were pregnant and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The complaint, filed with DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) urges a thorough investigation into the steps ICE has taken to implement and oversee its policies on the detention and treatment of pregnant women.

The complaint highlights illustrative case summaries that demonstrate the disturbing practice of detaining pregnant women, the lack of quality medical care provided to these women – some whom have suffered miscarriages in detention – and the agency’s failure to abide by its own existing policy to avoid detaining pregnant women whenever possible. Some of the women who shared their stories report being fearful that the extreme stress, anxiety and depression that they experience in detention may cause them to miscarry. This often compounds the trauma experienced before leaving their home country or that they suffered while en route to the U.S.    

This issue is of immediate concern given the administration’s executive orders directing ICE to dramatically increase immigration enforcement actions and detentions as well as overall detention capacity. These broad enforcement directives raise serious questions about the future of ICE policies on the detention of pregnant women and the agency’s ability to properly provide medical care while pregnant women are in its custody. 

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