ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties Condemns New ICE Policy on Detaining Pregnant Women

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a new policy today that revokes a previous guidance limiting the detention of pregnant women. The new policy eliminates the rule that ICE will not detain pregnant women except in extraordinary circumstances.

Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties said:

“This new policy underscores the blatant cruelty of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Locking up pregnant women who are pursuing legal avenues to remain in the United States is reckless and inhumane. This new policy endangers the lives of immigrant women and will likely result in more injuries, deaths and miscarriages.

“Incredibly, Deputy Director of ICE Thomas Homan has revoked a policy that he himself instituted less than two years ago. ICE policy now removes critical protections for a particularly vulnerable population and eliminates key reporting requirements for oversight of a detention system that needs more, not less, transparency and accountability.  

“This new policy runs counter to our values as a nation of compassionate and just people. We look forward to the day when this policy is a relic of the past.” 

In September 2017, the ACLU and partner organizations filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of Inspector General calling for an investigation into the detention and treatment of pregnant women.

On Sept. 11, 2017, the ACLU SDIC sent a letter to ICE that secured the release of Maria Solis, a pregnant detainee at the Otay Detention Facility. Solis had a history of complicated pregnancies, and reportedly lost consciousness while she was locked in a room at the detention center. During her detention, she was also forced to work with harsh chemicals in confined spaces. Later, a chemical spill caused the evacuation of the female unit of the same privately-owned where Solis had been previously confined, resulting in at least 20 women experiencing fainting or vomiting, according to reports.

San Diego and Imperial Counties are home to two of the nation’s largest immigration detention centers, both are operated by private corporations. The ACLU has endorsed the House bill, “Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act” (H.R. 3923), which would protect vulnerable populations in detention, including pregnant women.