U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer detain most pregnant, lactating and postpartum women for deportation, overturning Trump-era directive on Friday
The latest adjustment to U.S. immigration policies comes on top of a growing list of restrictions on ICE agents – a move that has further frustrated GOP members.
While the Biden administration has said it seeks to make America’s immigration system more humane, Republicans have argued that Biden’s policies have created a humanitarian crisis at the border and allowed unrestricted illegal immigration.
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“There is nothing human about encouraging human trafficking of infants and pregnant women,” said the Republican of Arkansas. Senator Tom Cotton said Friday. “This policy will worsen Biden’s border crisis.”
The Biden administration is already facing legal action from the sheriffs of Texas, their counties, and the Federal Police Foundation – which represents ICE agents – over the ICE’s inability to deport illegal immigrants with criminal history.
But ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said the latest regulations safeguard “the health and safety of pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding people” and reflect “our commitment to treat all people with respect and dignity. “.
The policy states that in the limited cases where detention is necessary, pregnant women, as well as those postpartum or breastfeeding, will be monitored and receive necessary medical and mental health care.
“Given the unique needs of this population, we will not detain people known to be pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding unless release is prohibited by law or exceptional circumstances exist,” Johnson said on Friday.
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Pregnant and postpartum mothers could still be detained in “very limited circumstances” if the woman “presents an imminent risk of death, violence or physical harm”.
Under the Obama administration, pregnant women detained by immigration authorities were released, although in 2017 Trump reversed the order.
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Proponents of detaining pregnant women argue that if released, they could solidify their position in the United States if their child is born before deportation hearings are held.
Opponents of the detention of pregnant women argue that it endangers the health and safety of mother and child.
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