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July 9, 2021

U.S. stops jailing pregnant migrants, reversing Trump policy
By Ben Fox

U.S. immigration authorities will no longer routinely jail migrants facing deportation if they are pregnant or recently gave birth, reversing a Trump-era immigration policy. The new directive, announced Friday, does not bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from initiating proceedings to deport women who are pregnant, nursing or have given birth within the past year. But they generally would no longer be detained pending the outcome of their cases except under “exceptional circumstances,” the agency said. The practice of detaining pregnant migrants has been condemned as a threat to maternal and fetal health by immigrant and women’s advocacy groups critical of medical care at detention centers. “This reflects our commitment to treat all individuals with respect and dignity while still enforcing our nation’s laws,” acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said. The change is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to roll back Trump-era enforcement measures and return to policies resembling those in place under President Barack Obama. ICE recently adopted draft guidelines to focus apprehensions on people in the United States illegally who recently entered the country, pose a national security threat or have committed serious crimes. While these efforts have angered immigration opponents, the number of people in immigration custody has risen sharply in recent months. There are more than 27,000 people in ICE custody, up from less than 14,000 at the end of March, according to data compiled by the Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Nearly 80% of those in ICE custody have no criminal record, and a majority of those who do have committed largely minor offenses, according to TRAC.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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