Expectant border patrol agents serving in the El Paso, Texas sector are required to submit a monthly doctor’s note indicating they are pregnant while pregnant illegal immigrants are accommodated and treated with care.
Stu Harris, vice president of Local 1929 of the National Border Patrol Council, said in a phone interview with The Daily Caller the policy is misguided and also “frustrating for the agents.” He asked for the policy for female agents to be rescinded at once.
“There’s no common sense that you have to got to a doctor to say you’re pregnant,” Harris said, “it should be obvious.” He indicated that pregnant employees have to incur the cost, use their earned time off and miss work to obtain the monthly medical note for such an “obvious” condition of pregnancy to qualify for light duty.
“It’s being treated like an injury, so to speak,” said Harris. He explained if a border patrol agent is injured, or has surgery, they are required to provide a doctor’s note each month indicating they still are not capable of full duty. Pregnancy, he said, is being treated in the same manner.
“We have one agent whose doctor wrote on her note the ‘stress is impacting her pregnancy,” said Harris.
The Local 1929 union indicated the doctor’s note expectant border patrol agents in El Paso must be presented to Belinda Guitierrez, the branch chief of the El Pasto Sector Worker’s Compensation Office.
When reached by phone, Guitierrez said she was “not allowed to comment or remark,” and transferred TDC to Public Information Officer Ramiro Cordero.
“We’re not authorized to speak to policy,” Cordero said. He asked for an email outlining a request for comment, and he said he’d submit it to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C.
It’s unclear if this is a nationwide policy for all expectant border patrol agents, as Douglas Mosier, public affairs officer for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he would need more time to look into the policy.
“We would not be at liberty to discuss ongoing union issues,” Mosier said, regarding Local 1929’s claims the doctor’s note policy is misguided.
“The NBPC strongly supports the retention and recruitment of women into the patrol. This policy sets those efforts back,” said Harris. “This practice is wrong, misguided and is only in existence to harass female agents at an already stressful time. No one should have to worry about losing their job, or income, or be denied light duty when they are expecting a child. Customs and Border Patrol must treat employees better than that.”
By contrast, illegal immigrants who are pregnant when they cross the border are treated with care.
“We make every effort to accommodate them,” said Harris.
The federal government also makes every effort to accommodate pregnant detainees and in a memo from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, dated August 15, 2016, the care expected to pregnant detainees is outlined.
“ICE Enforcement and Renewal Operations must consider and address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of pregnant women detained in its custody,” the memo stated.
“Pregnant women will be re-evaluated regularly to determine if continued detention is warranted, receive appropriate pre-natal care, and be appropriated monitored by ICE for general health and well-being,” the memo advises.
That memo also indicates if appropriate, pregnant detainees should not be detained and if released under the Alternatives to Detention program, “will not be required to wear a radio frequency or global positioning system monitor.”