The Biden administration is now formalizing a reversal of a Trump era policy that broadly allowed for detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of women who are pregnant and apprehended in conjunction with an undocumented border crossing. Now, besides a block on most detentions of pregnant women, the Biden administration is also blocking most detentions by immigration authorities of women who have given birth up to one year prior to their encounter with federal agents. According to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, authorities will not be detaining either pregnant, postpartum, or nursing women “unless release is prohibited by law or exceptional circumstances exist.”
The Biden admin will no longer routinely jail migrants facing deportation if they are pregnant or recently gave birth, reversing a Trump-era immigration policy. https://t.co/WV3CKS5vDh
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 11, 2021
Johnson also says that the new policy “reflects our commitment to treat all individuals with respect and dignity while still enforcing our nation’s laws.” As NBC explains, “Previously, ICE refrained from detaining pregnant women — a policy that was only halted temporarily under the Trump administration.” Besides formalizing that previous, pre-Trump precedent, the Biden administration’s new policy expands the protections. The move mirrors other steps that Biden’s team has taken, like their ending of the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy that was instituted by the Trump administration. That policy forced many asylum-seekers to wait in potentially precarious conditions outside of the U.S. while their cases were processed.
As summarized by NBC, the Biden administration has already “drastically scaled back the detention of women with their children, using previous family detention centers only as staging areas before they are released to await court dates.” One of the most infamous examples of the Trump administration’s targeting of migrants was no doubt the temporary policy of separating families who arrived at the border.
As the Biden administration continues its moves away from that anti-immigrant approach, activists like Eunice Cho, who serves as senior staff attorney with the National Prison Project of the ACLU, have praise for the progress. Cho said that this “action by the Biden administration is a welcome step in the right direction,” adding that this “move brings us closer to more humane treatment by ICE of people who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing.” Cho also said that “ICE should stop detaining or arresting people who would be at particular risk in detention, must implement robust oversight of detention facilities, and ensure the release of all people who would be particularly vulnerable in detention.”
At this year’s Dallas edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, former President Donald Trump ranted that the southern border has turned into “the single greatest disaster in American history and perhaps in world history,” which just doesn’t even make sense.