July 9, 2018
By Ema O'Connor and Nidhi Prakash
“While the national focus has been on family separations, another Department of Homeland Security policy quietly introduced by the Trump administration five months earlier has devastated women fleeing violence in their home countries: the detention of pregnant women not yet in their third trimester.
“Before that directive, which the Trump administration implemented in December before announcing it in March, ICE was under an Obama administration–era directive not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.
“The new ICE directive states that women are not to be held into their third trimester and that ICE is responsible for ‘ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment.’
“But BuzzFeed News has found evidence that that directive is not being carried out. Instead, women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care, even when in dire need of it, are shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated.
“In interviews and written affidavits, E and four other women who’ve been in ICE detention and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody while pregnant told of being ignored when they were obviously miscarrying, described their CBP and ICE-contracted jailers as unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies, and recounted an incident of physical abuse from CBP officers who knew they were dealing with a pregnant woman. Those descriptions were backed by interviews with five legal aid workers, four medical workers, and two advocates who work with ICE detainees.
“The incidents were not limited to a single detention center. Three medical workers and five legal aid workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News all said they had seen — and some had documented — cases of pregnant women not receiving or being denied medical care in more than six different detention centers in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.”