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ICE changes its policy to detain pregnant immigrants

ICE changes its policy to detain pregnant immigrants

ICE changes its policy to detain pregnant immigrants

The Trump administration has ended a program that exempted pregnant undocumented women from detention, federal officials announced Thursday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will now take the woman's pregnancy into consideration as well as whether or not they assess her to be a flight risk, or a danger to the community, the department said. The only stipulation is all pregnant women in custody must be logged and given the necessary prenatal medical care.

Homan's memo, entitled "Identification and Monitoring of Pregnant Detainees", reverses guidance put forth by former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the Obama administration, which stated, "Absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, pregnant women will generally not be detained by ICE".

Philip Miller, ICE's deputy executive director, told CNN that 506 women have been detained since December. "Instead, as with all detainees except those in cases of mandatory detention, ICE will complete a case-by-case custody determination taking any special factors into account". ICE will generally not detain pregnant women during their third trimester.

But after Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 that required immigration officers to target all undocumented immigrants, the agency made a decision to change the way it dealt with pregnant women.

Since 2011, ICE had allowed the release of pregnant women from detention centers, the Huffington Post recalls and provided some exemptions for security threats. Miller also said that there were 35 pregnant women in ICE custody on March 20, the most recent date for which the agency had data.

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In the face of possible accusations of "abuse of human rights", and as reported by Think Progress, an ICE official shared an appending of FAQ claiming that "the agency exercises its civil detention authority consistent with the law, and all detainees receive necessary and appropriate health services, food, and care".

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. "We're aligning this policy, as we have with all of our policies, with the direction from the president".

Immigrant women in detention are also sometimes the victims of rape, said Kathryn Shepherd of the American Immigration Council, which was one of the groups that filed a complaint past year against the detention of pregnant women.

Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission, one of the groups that filed a complaint past year against the detention of pregnant women, told the Huffington Post the administration can seek other alternatives, like mandatory check-ins or ankle bracelets.

"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.

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