U.S. immigration officials have announced that they will no longer routinely jail migrants facing deportation if they are pregnant or recently gave birth, in what is a reversal of policies enacted by Trump.
The new directive, announced Friday July 9th, does not bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from initiating proceedings to deport women who are pregnant, nursing or have given birth within the past year. However, they would generally no longer be detained while the outcome of their cases is decided, except under ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Immigrant and Women’s advocacy groups have long condemned the practice of detaining pregnant migrants in detention centers and it is seen as a threat to maternal and fetal health.
The update in policy is part of Biden’s wider immigration reforms and efforts to rescind many Trump-era measures brought in over the past 4 years. ICE recently adopted guidelines to focus the detention of people in the United States illegally who recently entered the country, pose a national security threat or have committed serious crimes.
The number of people in immigration custody has risen sharply in recent months. There are over 27,000 people in ICE custody, up from less than 14,000 at the end of March, according to data from researchers at Syracuse University. Almost 80% have no criminal record, and a majority of those who do are reported to have committed minor crimes.
Under Obama’s administration, ICE adopted a policy in August 2016 that pregnant migrants would be presumed eligible for release as their cases made their way through the complex immigration courts system. Trump ended this policy of ‘presumed release’, part of his administration’s strengthened immigration enforcement approach, including arrests of anyone without legal residency regardless of whether they had committed some other offense.
With information from Associated Press.
The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.