NBC News reports that over a dozen Democratic senators are urging President Donald Trump and his administration to call on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ease policy on detaining pregnant migrants.
Specifically, the senators are urging the presumptive release “for all pregnant women” in immigrant detention, which is an Obama-era directive that Trump reversed. In addition, they asked CBP to enact measures that ensure “timely and appropriate treatment” for detained pregnant women.
The requests were made in a letter sent to ICE and CBP on Monday morning.
“In the absence of compelling evidence that the detention of a pregnant woman is necessary because she is a threat to herself or others, or is a threat to public safety or national security, the civil detention of an expectant mother for potential immigration offenses is never justified.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the lead signature on the letter, spoke to NBC News about pregnant women that experience mistreatment and neglect while in custody, which she calls “unconscionable.”
“These women need a safe environment and regular access to medical care, which ICE and CBP have failed to provide.”
Other senators that signed the letter include Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 8, 2019
The request comes not long after after a Honduran woman delivered a stillborn boy at an immigration detention center in Texas back in February. Per The Hill, ICE claims that 28 women might have experienced a miscarriage either before, or while, in ICE custody over the last two years.
As of March of 2018, the Trump administration halted the presumptive release of pregnant women. ICE officials state that releases are determined based on a case-by-case assessment of custody that takes “special factors into consideration.”
The letter also presented questions and requested documentation from both ICE and CBP representatives regarding how many pregnant women are currently detained, how long they have been detained, and the nature of the care provided to them. The letter mirrors another sent to ICE in 2018, one that opposed the Trump administration’s decision to end presumptive release.
Per The Guardian, the Trump administration’s preliminary budget proposal is bad news for pregnant women in the U.S. — it slashes $3.5 billion in funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program over the next decade. The purpose of the WIC is to serve more than 8 million pregnant women and low-income children. It is reported to improve the children’s health and to improve their educational outcomes.