- Immigrant miscarriages in ICE detention have almost doubled during President Trump’s first two years in office, according to The Daily Beast.
- 18 women may have experienced a miscarriage as of Aug. 31, compared to 10 women who miscarried the year before.
- The increase in the number of miscarriages comes after the reversal of an Obama-era policy that directed ICE not to detain pregnant women except for extreme circumstances.
- The Hispanic Congressional Caucus is calling for a full investigation into conditions for pregnant women in immigration detention facilities.
The number of undocumented women who have experienced miscarriages while being held in government detention has almost doubled in the first two years of President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a government review of medical records first reported on by The Daily Beast.
As of Aug. 31, 2018, there were 18 migrant women who may have experienced a miscarriage just prior, or while, in ICE custody in 2018, according to a manual review of medical records conducted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and provided to INSIDER. That number is almost twice the number of women who possibly experienced a miscarriage while in custody in 2017.
The increase in miscarriages while in ICE custody follows a policy change – implemented under the Trump administration – about how the agency detains pregnant women. While the Obama administration directed ICE not to detain pregnant women except for extreme circumstances, the new directive, enacted in December 2017, ends that presumption of release for pregnant women, and instead calls for handling releases on a case-by-case basis.
“Under this policy 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,” an ICE spokesperson told INSIDER. “This does not mean that all pregnant women 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.”
In September 2017 immigration advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Council, and the Women’s Refugee Commission, filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security about the treatment of pregnant women in ICE detention. The complaint included allegations of mistreatment by 10 women in detention.
One woman, Laura, a 24-year-old from Honduras who had already experienced a miscarriage after going into hiding from a gang that threatened to kill her, said that she feared that conditions at the South Texas Family Residential Center would lead to another miscarriage. Laura and her young child were detained despite numerous requests for their release, according to the complaint.
“It is very difficult for me to be locked up like this,” she said in the complaint. “I have been crying a lot and my head always hurts.” Laura was told she would have a “credible fear” interview, but said “the idea of having to recount all of the difficult things that have happened to me is very stressful.”
After a 24-year-old Honduran woman gave birth to a stillborn child while in ICE custody in February, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus demanded a full investigation into conditions for pregnant women in immigration detention facilities.
“We have heard several alarming stories of pregnant women receiving inadequate medical care and even miscarrying while in DHS custody,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), chairman of the caucus, said in a statement. “The practice of detaining these women is inhumane and inconsistent with our values as Americans.”
Between Oct. 1, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018, there were 1,655 pregnant women in ICE custody, according to the ICE spokesperson. There have been 60 women detained since August. Under the agency’s policy, all women of reproductive age are required to undergo urinalysis testing to detect early pregnancies or a recent miscarriage.
The spokesperson cited genetic and reproductive issues, along with physical trauma as potential causes of miscarriages.
“Generally, with limited insight into a pregnant detainee’s medical history, ICE is unable to determine what caused a given miscarriage, and cannot confirm when a miscarriage began before or after an individual entered ICE custody,” the spokesperson said.
- Read more:
- A dentist at an immigration detention facility told inspectors he doesn’t have time for cleanings or fillings – but suggested immigrants floss with string from their socks if they’re ‘dedicated to dental hygiene’
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