Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials won’t detain most migrant women who are new or expecting mothers for deportation, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The new policy is aimed at the “health and safety” of most pregnant, nursing and postpartum migrant women, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said in a statement, according to the Post. The policy overturns a Trump-era practice where officials detained thousands of new or expecting mothers.
The policy also acknowledges “the time needed for infant development and parental bonding,” the officials said, the Post reported. (RELATED: Immigration Advocates Silent As Detained Migrant Children Allegedly Cut Wrists, Suffer Panic Attacks)
Another key question will be: What about CBP? Mistreatment of pregnant women – in particular immediately expelling them to Mexico just after emergency births, denying citizenship or delaying paperwork for babies – has been subject of number of recent CRCL complaints & IG requests https://t.co/m2XdgtYFpl
— Molly O’Toole (@mollymotoole) July 9, 2021
The policy provides more protections than during the Obama administration, when pregnant female migrants were typically exempt from federal detention, according to the Post. President Joe Biden’s administration expanded protections to include women who have given birth in the last year or who are nursing.
“ICE is committed to safeguarding the integrity of our immigration system and preserving the health and safety of pregnant, postpartum, and nursing individuals,” ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said in a statement, the Post reported.
Women are given pregnancy tests when they’re taken into federal custody as part of regular health screenings, according to the Post. If a woman tests positive, they’re “generally” released from custody.
“Given the unique needs of this population, we will not detain individuals known to be pregnant, postpartum, or nursing unless release is prohibited by law or exceptional circumstances exist,” Johnson added, the Post reported.
Some expecting and new mothers could still be detained in “very limited circumstances,” such as if the woman is a national security risk or “poses an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm,” the policy says, according to the Post.
Biden said he wants to establish a more humane immigration policy towards children and parents arriving at the southern border, though critics argue he has an obligation to uphold U.S. laws, the Post reported. Border officials encountered over 180,000 migrants at the southern border in May, including more than 14,100 unaccompanied children, according to Customs and Border Protection.
ICE officials detained around 2,100 pregnant women in 2018, up 52% from the last year former President Barack Obama was in office, according to the Post. Most of the mothers were detained attempting to illegally enter the U.S. to apply for asylum.
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