U.S. officials have detained more than 2,500 pregnant women in the past three years, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and the number has gone up steadily since changes to the immigration policy took effect in 2017.
And that has many people worried that the women aren’t getting proper medical care when they might need it the most, even though an agency spokeswoman told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., that more than $250 million is spent annually on health care for detainees.
“ICE is committed to ensuring that everyone in our custody receives timely access to medical services and treatment. Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay,” she said in an email to the newspaper, which recently published a comprehensive account of one woman’s journey from an arrest in Tennessee to her transfer to a Louisiana detention center to her release amid a public outcry.
The Trump administration has issued several executive orders that have allowed immigration officials to arrest more people who previously would not have been taken into custody. That includes pregnant women, even if they have no criminal record.
“While (Enforcement and Removal Operations) makes every effort to arrest aliens who threaten public safety, no criminal action or conviction is required for ERO to act on an individual case. There is no category of alien exempt from immigration enforcement,” The Commercial Appeal cited the agency as stating.
The woman discussed in this case had been married to a U.S. citizen since 2011 and did not have a criminal record. She was meeting with an immigration official about her citizenship application at the time of her arrest on what she was told was a deportation order.
Between Oct. 1, 2017, and Aug. 31, 2018, ICE took 1,655 pregnant women into custody. In the prior 50 weeks, the number was 525, according to the newspaper.
This woman’s case illustrates why it is so important for immigrants to have legal representation as they seek permanent status or citizenship. With rules that now state anyone can be taken into custody, an attorney can help prevent a situation similar to the one this woman recently endured.