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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns ICE Policy of Detaining Pregnant Women

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) condemned the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for ending the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees. Previously ICE policy dictated that pregnant women were generally not detained unless their detention was mandatory under the law, or when “extraordinary circumstances” warranted detention.

In September 2017 WRC filed a complaint with the Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, highlighting the conditions and treatment of pregnant women that were in violation of this policy. Some of the women whose cases WRC had documented, suffered miscarriages while in detention. 

In ending the presumption of release, ICE has said that all custody determinations are now being made on a case-by-case basis. Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program with the WRC made the following statement, regarding the Trump's administration's decision to end the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees.

“In another attack on women and children, the Trump administration has ended its policy of avoiding detention of pregnant women. The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) has long documented the dangerous and unhealthy detention conditions that are especially dangerous and inappropriate for pregnant women. Many women are pregnant as a result of rape and violence that they experienced either on the journey to the U.S. or that may be part of an asylum claim.  Detention is especially traumatic for pregnant women and even more so for victims of rape and gender-based violence. WRC condemns this decision to no longer protect expecting mothers and their unborn children.”