Press Releases

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Over 250 Reproductive, Civil and Human Rights Organizations Call on ICE to Discontinue Policy on Detaining Pregnant Individuals

Press Release
Washington

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Center for Reproductive Rights, ACLU, Women’s Refugee Commission and Others Urge Administration to Reinstitute a Presumption That Pregnant Individuals Should be Released from Detention

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Today, a broad coalition of over 250 civil and human rights organizations called on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reverse a recent policy change from the Trump Administration regarding the detention of pregnant individuals and to reinstitute a general presumption that pregnant individuals should not be subject to detention. 

Though ICE has detained pregnant women in the past, the directive issued by the Trump administration eliminates the general presumption that ICE should not detain pregnant individuals except in extraordinary circumstances and removes critical reporting requirements regarding the treatment of pregnant individuals. 

In a letter led by National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum,, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Women’s Refugee Commission, the coalition strongly urges ICE to discontinue its recently-announced policy of detaining pregnant individuals, asking that instead they be released to continue their cases outside of detention. The groups assert that the immigration detention system has proven itself incapable of handling the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations, and the letter provides specific examples of pregnant individuals who experienced inadequate care and mistreatment while in detention. 

No one, regardless of immigration status, should be denied necessary reproductive healthcare,” the letter reads.

The letter states that the pregnant individuals in detention have experienced, delayed access to prenatal care, threatening both the pregnant individual’s health and the health of their fetus.  Some women have tragically suffered miscarriages while being held in detention. Nursing mothers report not being given information about or supplied with breast pumps that would allow them to maintain their milk supply while separated from their children.

“ICE’s policy change will likely result in more pregnant individuals in detention and pregnant individuals detained for longer periods of time, thus exacerbating these problems and further endangering the lives of pregnant people.”

The letter goes on to state the arbitrary detention of pregnant people also violates international human rights norms.”

“In making this inhumane policy change, the Trump Administration has chosen to completely ignore the significant risks that detention poses to pregnant individuals. Conditions in detention centers have a long history of disregard of basic human rights and, for pregnant individuals, the anxiety and trauma caused by detention is compounded by the dangerously subpar access to critical medical care, and separation from their children, families, communities, and healthcare providers. This policy change is further proof of the cruelty with which the Trump Administration treats some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” said Ann Marie Benitez, senior director of government relations at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).

“All people have the right to make the best decisions for their health, body, and family with dignity and self determination. Detention centers, by their very nature, are not spaces where dignity and self determination are possible. NLIRH demands ICE adopt a presumption of release for pregnant detainees. Further, ICE must never detain any pregnant individual in a detention facility again so as to not continue to stain our nation’s history with the continuation of this barbaric practice,” Benitez added.

In addition to the 276 organizations calling on ICE to reinstitute a presumption of release for pregnant individuals in its custody, several medical and mental health organizations – including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) – have stated their opposition to the recent policy shift, citing the harmful effects of detention on the medical and mental health of pregnant individuals.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

For more information on NLIRH’s fight for health, dignity and justice, visit us at latinainstitute.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @NLIRH.

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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 28 million Latinas, their families, and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.