The Biden administration recently eased restrictions of ICE practices, blocking the detention of undocumented immigrants who are pregnant, nursing, and/or postpartum. The new policy asserts that, “except in special circumstances where a woman’s detention is mandatory, expectant mothers and those who have given birth up to one year previously will not be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)” (Ainsley, 2021). In the event that such immigrants are detained, the policy mandates that “immigration officials should monitor and ensure they receive medical attention, mental health services and pre- or postnatal care” (Subramanian, 2021).
ICE previously abstained from detaining undocumented, pregnant immigrants; however, under the Trump administration, hardline immigration policies reinstated the practice. Of one of President Biden’s shelters for unaccompanied migrant children, whistleblowers contend poor care ranging from “being watched over by contractors with no Spanish-language skills or experience in child care” (Ainsley, 2021). The Biden administration is also using family detention centers as “staging areas” while awaiting court appointments. The newly instated policy on the detention of undocumented immigrants who are pregnant, nursing, and/or postpartum maintains such use of detention centers for pregnant immigrants and their children.
Senior Staff Attorney with the National Prison Project of the ACLU, Eunice Cho, declared:
This action by the Biden administration is a welcome step in the right direction. This move brings us closer to more humane treatment by ICE of people who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing. ICE should stop detaining or arresting people who would be at particular risk in detention, must implement robust oversight of detention facilities, and ensure the release of all people who would be particularly vulnerable in detention.– Eunice Cho, Senior Staff Attorney with the National Prison Project of the ACLU