US stops imprisonment of pregnant migrants and reverses Trump’s policies


WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. immigration authorities will no longer routinely detain migrants at risk of deportation if they are pregnant or have recently given birth, reversing Trump-era immigration policies.

The new directive, announced on Friday, does not prevent the immigration and customs authorities from initiating procedures for the deportation of women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who have given birth in the past year. But they would generally no longer be detained pending the outcome of their cases, except in “exceptional circumstances,” the agency said.

The practice of imprisoning pregnant migrants has been condemned as a threat to maternal and fetal health by immigrant and women’s organizations critical of medical care in prisons.

“This reflects our commitment to treat all people with respect and dignity while enforcing the laws of our country,” said incumbent ICE director Tae Johnson.

The change is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to take back Trump-era enforcement measures and return to policies similar to those of President Barack Obama. ICE recently adopted draft guidelines to address concerns in the United States who recently entered the country illegally, posed a threat to national security, or committed serious crimes.

While these efforts have angered anti-immigrants, the number of people in immigration custody has risen sharply in recent months. According to the Syracuse University Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse, more than 27,000 people are in ICE custody, up from fewer than 14,000 at the end of March.

Almost 80% of those in ICE custody have no previous convictions, and the majority of those who do have committed mostly minor offenses, according to TRAC.

Proponents praised Friday’s announcement but said it didn’t go far enough. The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the government to end the detention of anyone who may be at risk in detention. “This move by the Biden government is a welcome step in the right direction,” said Eunice Cho, a senior lawyer for the organization.

Under Obama, the ICE passed a guideline in August 2016 that says pregnant migrants are likely to be released if their cases get through immigration courts.

President Donald Trump ended this alleged release policy, which was part of his administration’s tightened enforcement of immigration policies, including the arrests of illegitimate persons regardless of whether they had committed any other crime.

The number of pregnant women jailed by ICE rose from 1,380 in 2016 to 2,098, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The ICE is legally required to detain some migrants, including foreigners convicted of certain crimes or terrorist activities. The agency promised that the “very limited” number of pregnant women detained under the new policy would receive regular medical care as needed and that officials would be prohibited from using shackles except in “exceptional circumstances”.

Any child born in the United States would automatically have American citizenship.

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