A woman from El Salvador who is eight-and-a-half-months pregnant and experiencing contractions while crossing the Rio Grande was forced to return to Mexico by Border Patrol agents, the Associated Press reports.
After being taken to a hospital and given medication to stop the contractions, she was quickly sent back to Mexico, according to her attorney Jodi Goodwin. “She’s concerned about having the baby in the street or having to have the baby in a shelter,” Goodwin said.
The migrant woman is joined more than 38,000 people that have been forced to return to Mexico for immigration court hearings under Trump’s Migrant Protection Policy, better known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. Shelters are already at or above capacity at the border in Mexico and there have been reports of migrants being attacked or kidnapped, especially in Tamaulipas state across from South Texas, where the Salvadoran mother is waiting for a Nov. 14 court date in Brownsville.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said people in “vulnerable populations” may be exempt from being sent to Mexico however this doesn’t automatically apply to pregnant women, according to AP. Some are sent to wait in border cities including Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros though they never requested asylum and some are also not asked if they fear persecution in Mexico, despite U.S. government rules that say migrants should not be sent there if they face that risk, KPBS reports. So though the program is growing, it’s evident it’s not running as it should be.
Goodwin provided copies of the 28-year-old woman’s immigration paperwork and the Valley Regional Medical Center bracelet. “In this particular case, this woman was actually taken to the hospital by CBP,” she told AP. “There’s no way that CBP could suggest that her pregnancy wasn’t known.”
Temporary tent courtrooms in Brownsville and Laredo, Texas, where immigration judges from around the U.S. hear migrants’ cases via video has been established by the U.S. government with hearings starting there in late September,
According to reports, 32,000 people have been sent back while Mexico says around 5,500 people have been sent to Nuevo Laredo and 3,000 people to Matamoros.
There’s no doubt the pregnant woman, who remains nameless for her safety, is scared for her life and that of her daughter and unborn child but by their actions, it’s evident Border Patrol’s definition of vulnerable is very limited.