Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it has rescinded its policy of jailing pregnant women only in cases involving extraordinary circumstances. Instead, the agency intends to treat pregnant women as it would anyone else, using a “case-by-case custody determination” process which is just another excuse for prolonging detention of any and all immigrants.
“This shameful policy from ICE is the latest example of the administration’s broader and blatant anti-immigrant campaign,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy.
Federal immigration law already provides ICE broad authority to detain pregnant women, and ICE regularly does so in conditions that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s own Inspector General has found to “undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment.” Issuing a policy making it easier on the agency to engage in this practice is cruelty for cruelty’s sake.
In its newly issued directive, ICE claims it provides quality care to pregnant women in its custody. Yet only months ago, numerous nongovernmental organizations filed an administrative complaint on behalf of women who are or were pregnant in ICE detention documenting inadequate medical care and the pervasive anxiety and depression they suffered while jailed far from their loved ones and legal counsel.
Today, ICE’s more than 200 jails are filled with refugees, long-time beloved community members, and mothers and fathers torn from their children. ICE is now intentionally using the detention system to undermine our most fundamental values.
We call on Members of Congress to condemn this announcement immediately and demand restoration and meaningful implementation of ICE’s August 2016 directive providing minimal protections to pregnant women in detention.
TAKE ACTION! Call your members of Congress and urge them to publicly denounce ICE's new directive regarding the detention of pregnant women. Urge your U.S. representatives to support the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act requiring basic civil and human rights protections for vulnerable populations and all individuals in immigration jails.