ICE Ends Policy Of Presuming Release For Pregnant Detainees

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer automatically release pregnant immigrants from detention, marking the latest effect of President Donald Trump's efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

According to CNN, this change in detention policy "could pave the way for more pregnant women to be held in detention facilities while they await lengthy judicial proceedings about whether they can stay in the U.S., facilities that are already decried by critics for tough conditions". Obama's administration ordered in an August 2016 memo that, "absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention", pregnant women would generally be released from ICE custody.

"This new policy further exposes the cruelty of Trump's detention and deportation force by endangering the lives of pregnant immigrant women", said Victoria Lopez, senior staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

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While authorities made clear that it would review cases individually and that officers may consider pregnancy, the new policy shifts the focus more toward detention. "As a result, we treat those pregnant women who are not subject to mandatory detention as we do any other alien in our custody". "We're aligning this policy, as all of our policies, with executive orders from the President". Humans rights groups have argued that these kinds of policies infringe on free speech rights.

US officials said it was unclear how many women would be affected by the new policy. Not all pregnant immigrants will be detained, but emphasis will be placed on people whose detention "is necessary to effectuate removal" and others who may be flight risks or a danger to the community.

Philip Miller, ICE deputy executive associate director, told reporters on Thursday that these pregnant immigrants will be detained on the grounds that ICE believes they could be a threat to the public.

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Officials say it's unclear how many women who would have been released under the old policy will now be held.

The Huffington Post reported previous year that two women had suffered miscarriages while in immigration detention facilities. And as of March 20, there were 35 pregnant women in ICE's custody.

Calling it an "attack on women and children", Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at Women's Refugee Commission, said the organization "condems" the move. "Many experienced severe anxiety and depression". The complaint alleged that ICE was failing to abide by its own policy against detaining pregnant women and that the women were not being given adequate care.

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The FAQ also pointed out that detention facilities would "continue to provide onsite prenatal care and education, as well as remote access to specialists for pregnant women who remain in custody".

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