Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer automatically release pregnant immigrants from detention, marking the latest effect of President Donald Trump's efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Miller also said that there were 35 pregnant women in ICE custody on March 20, the most recent date for which the agency had data.
The policy overturned former President Barack Obama's orders to ICE to mainly detain and deport criminals and those who had recently crossed the border, the Post said.
He said it was hard to estimate how many more pregnant immigrants would be detained under the new policy.
With the change, outlined in a December 14 directive signed by acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, ICE will no longer presumptively release pregnant women from detention.
"This new policy further exposes the cruelty of Trump's detention and deportation force by endangering the lives of pregnant immigrant women", Lopez said in a statement to Teen Vogue.
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ICE said the change was made to "better align" with an executive order issued by Trump in January a year ago, which broadly enabled immigration enforcement agencies to more strictly follow immigration laws. Twelve detainees died in ICE custody in 2017, the deadliest year since 2009. In November, Broadly detailed the experiences of 10 women who were in detention while pregnant, including one high-risk pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage, despite the agency's previous policy. A top ICE officer, Philip Miller, told CNN that he disagreed that the change represented a targeted crackdown on pregnant immigrants.
"The Women's Refugee Commission has long documented the risky and unhealthy detention conditions that are especially unsafe and inappropriate for pregnant women", Brané said in a statement. The old policy stated that pregnant women were generally not detained, unless it was mandatory by law or warranted under "extraordinary circumstances". Report after report from immigrants' rights watchdog groups have been critical of ICE's ability to provide health care to detainees.
Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission, which was also part of the complaint, said ICE did not notify her organization after the directive in December, even though the two groups have been in communication with each other.
USA officials said it was unclear how many women would be affected by the new policy.
But after Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 that required immigration officers to target all undocumented immigrants, the agency chose to change the way it dealt with pregnant women.
New rules being applied to immigrants is nothing new under the Trump administration.