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Calls in Congress for Investigation into Women Miscarrying in ICE Custody

Pregnant women report a lack of medical care and use of shackles while in ICE custody in recent months.  (Twenty20)
Pregnant women report a lack of medical care and use of shackles while in ICE custody in recent months. (Twenty20)
July 16, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This week, members of Congress will continue their push for an investigation into the detention of pregnant women in Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities.

Numerous reports of pregnant women miscarrying and lacking proper health care in ICE custody were made public last week.

The grassroots organization MomsRising has been following anecdotal stories since last year, after hearing of one pregnant woman's treatment in a California detention center.

"We do not think this is an isolated incident,” says Nadia Hussain, the group’s campaign director for maternal justice. “In our research, we found that the lack of health care, lack of food of pregnant women and other pregnant women miscarrying, there's a history of it. The difference is now. During the Obama administration, there was a policy that pregnant women should not be detained."

The closest ICE detention centers to Arkansas are in Tulsa and Shreveport.

In March, the Trump administration announced it would no longer automatically release pregnant immigrants from detention, but actually implemented the policy three months prior.

A federal directive regarding the change in policy states that ICE is responsible for "ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment."

But Hussain and others have heard reports that ICE is not abiding by the directive, denying medical care and shackling pregnant women, against the advice of medical professionals.

Hussain describes the report from an immigrant at the California facility.

"She was not given proper food,” Hussain relates. “She was not given rest. They kind of ignored the fact that she was pregnant.

“Detention itself is problematic, very much so, but especially detaining pregnant women who are already in a vulnerable position, health wise."

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) of California wrote a letter calling on the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General to investigate the detention of pregnant women in ICE facilities.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - AR