President Donald Trump’s administration will no longer automatically release most pregnant illegal immigrants from detention, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy memo shared with lawmakers on Thursday.
Under the new policy, pregnant women will be released from immigration detention only on a case-by-case basis. Aside from providing necessary prenatal care and keeping records of pregnant women in custody, ICE will treat them as it would any other detained illegal immigrant, according to the memo Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan sent to Congress.
The policy change is based off Homan’s Dec. 14 directive, “Identification and Monitoring of Pregnant Detainees.” It supersedes Obama-era guidance Homan also issued that “absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, pregnant women will generally not be detained by ICE.”
Under the new policy, immigration authorities will no longer default to releasing pregnant illegal immigrants in custody. The Obama administration, on the other hand, instructed officers to assume a pregnant immigrant would be released except in extreme circumstances.
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An FAQ sheet sent with the policy memo emphasizes ICE is not going to detain all pregnant immigrants, CNN reported. Those cases still require individual evaluation, the memo said. ICE will maintain custody of “only those whose detention is necessary to effectuate removal, as well as those deemed a flight risk or danger to the community.”
Immigration authorities will lean toward releasing pregnant women if they are in their third trimester, according to the ICE memo. The agency will continue to provide prenatal care to pregnant women in detention and transfer those who need additional care to outside treatment facilities.
The policy change stems from President Donald Trump’s executive order to expand detention of illegal immigrants, administration officials said. The policy supports the administration’s position that no category of illegal immigrant is exempt from enforcement, Philip Miller, a top official in ICE’s enforcement and removal operations division, said.
“To mischaracterize this as some kind of wholesale change or draconian change is inaccurate,” Miller said, according to CNN. “We’re aligning this policy, as all of our policies, with executive orders from the president.”
ICE is not equipped to properly care for pregnant women in its custody and called for ankle-bracelet monitoring or mandatory check-ins in lieu of detention, critics said.
This report, by Will Racke, was cross posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.