On Feb. 22, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disclosed that a 24-year-old Honduran woman went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby at the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas.
According to their press release, the woman was picked up by agents before midnight four days prior near Hidalgo, Texas. “She was taken to the hospital and cleared for release on Feb. 21 after receiving two medical screenings. In the late afternoon on Feb. 22, she was transferred to ICE custody to be processed for release.”
However, on the night she was released, “she began complaining of abdominal discomfort and was examined by the ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC).” The woman was then taken to the hospital, and medical officials knew the baby was on its way — she was only 27 weeks pregnant. Unfortunately, the baby was born stillborn.
“The woman remains in ICE custody awaiting medical clearance, after which she will be released from custody.” But it’s unclear if she will be released in the U.S. or in Mexico. ICE also reports that this death is not considered an “in-custody death” because the baby was stillborn. The fact that ICE isn’t processing the death of the baby as “in-custody death” has many immigration organizations and Democrats livid.
“Medical experts have stated that detention centers do not have the necessary medical facilities to properly care for expectant mothers and that they should be released in a timely manner,” Rep. Joaquin Castro and Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus said in a press release provided to us. “However, last year the Trump Administration announced that it would detain most pregnant migrants instead of releasing them as the previous administration chose to do. As a result of this cruel policy change, we have heard several alarming stories of pregnant women receiving inadequate medical care and even miscarrying while in DHS custody. These tragedies make one thing very clear: ICE and CBP should not be detaining expectant mothers in poor conditions, and the practice of detaining these women is inhumane and inconsistent with our values as Americans. We must examine the circumstances of the unfortunate and disturbing loss of this mother’s child. These agencies should reverse the policy changes that are hurting expectant mothers and instead work to protect the health and safety of all immigrants.”
RAICES — an immigration advocacy group — is also demanding her release.
🆘 REMINDER 🆘
The woman who delivered a stillborn baby in ICE custody on Friday is still being detained by ICE.@ICEgov RELEASE HER NOW.
Pregnant migrant women should not be locked up.https://t.co/fGvCnYLauE
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) February 27, 2019
“The death of a stillborn child is yet another horrific example of ICE’s inability to treat migrants with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Erika Andiola, chief of advocacy with RAICES, told The Daily Beast. “Pregnant migrant women should not be locked up. Keeping them in jail is a Trump administration policy. It’s inhumane, and we can’t let it stand.”