April 08, 2019

Wyden Calls for Trump Administration to Stop Detaining and Shackling Pregnant Women

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. D-Ore., today joined 15 of his Senate colleagues to call for the reinstatement of an Obama-era policy ordering most pregnant women to be released from immigration detention.

The Trump administration had secretly ended the policy last year before announcing its new policy in March. In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the senators called for the reinstatement of presumptive release for pregnant detainees as well as improved medical care for expectant mothers.

In February, a 24-year-old Honduran woman went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby at the Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas. ICE subsequently revealed that as many as 28 women may have miscarried while in the agency’s custody during the last two fiscal years. 

“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… We cannot stand by while women are harmed by this administration’s inhumane policies. We strongly urge ICE to reverse its decision and reinstate a policy of presumptive release for all pregnant women, and CBP to institute strong measures that ensure the timely and appropriate treatment of pregnant women in its custody,” the senators wrote.

The letter, led by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.