Some pregnant women have suffered miscarriages because of “cruel” and “inhumane” practices while in ICE custody, according to a shocking new report.
The women were allegedly denied medical care, shackled around their bellies, and abused while locked up at various detention centers across the Southwest operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Several spoke to BuzzFeed News about the treatment they received, or lack thereof. Lawyers and medical workers also described some of the alleged “negligence” — and how it didn’t appear to occur until President Trump took office.
“Pregnant women have highly specialized needs,” explained Virginia Sushila Schwerin, a midwife and nurse who has worked with immigrants as a volunteer at a Circle of Health International’s clinic near the southern US border in Texas. “I think it’s inhumane to detain them.”
Before Trump was elected, medical workers told BuzzFeed that the treatment of pregnant women was “substantially different.” They said that they were typically released from CBP custody quite quickly, and in 2016, were protected under an Obama-era ICE policy that required agents to only detain expectant mothers under “extraordinary” circumstances.
Linda Rivas, the executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, told BuzzFeed that getting a pregnant woman out of a federal detention center used to be as easy as making a phone call. Now, she says nobody answers.
“It was a real shock to us at first,” Rivas said of the alleged abuse. “But then we just started seeing it more and more.”
While shackling is reportedly banned by ICE and CBP’s most recent standards of care policies, numerous women claim to have been put in chains while in federal custody. Five spoke to BuzzFeed about what the agents allegedly did, with some alleging that they were shackled during their second trimesters.
“When the doctor examined me, he said there were many reasons for the miscarriage but it was likely because of the conditions they had me in,” said Rubia Mabel Morales Alfaro.
The 28-year-old was in ICE detention from around Dec. 23 to March 15 of this year, according to BuzzFeed.
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When she got caught at the border, federal agents allegedly “threw [her] around” and pushed her to the ground, even after she told them she was pregnant.
“They didn’t believe me,” Morales recalled. “They said it wasn’t important, that it wasn’t their problem.”
According to lawyers and medical workers, the number of pregnant detainees in the US began rising last summer.
“It was an accurate reflection of what the Trump administration wanted to happen,” Rivas said. “They were just late to making it official.”
In December, Trump signed off on a new ICE directive allowing the detainment of pregnant women, as long as they’re not in their third trimester. It stated that agents were responsible for “ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment.” But the women who spoke to BuzzFeed claim this wasn’t the case.
“When the doctor examined me, he said there were many reasons for the miscarriage but it was likely because of the conditions they had me in,” Morales said. “I told them I am not well, I just lost a baby. And they said, ‘That’s not my fault, that’s your fault.’”
At least 10 women came forward in September and filed a formal complaint against ICE — with support from immigration advocates, including the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“My soul aches that there are many pregnant women coming who could lose their babies like I did,” said one migrant, who would only identify herself as E.
“They wouldn’t look after me,” she told BuzzFeed, in reference to ICE agents, who allegedly watched her have her miscarriage. “An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors.”
It was at this moment that E, who was bleeding profusely, said she realized she was “losing” her son.
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“It was his life that I was bleeding out,” she said. “I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying.”
Medical experts said that at the end of the day, the best thing for the Trump administration to do would be to allow the quick release of expectant mothers.
“This is not the US standard of care in any way,” explained Dr. Anjani Kolahi, a family medicine and obstetrics physician with Physicians for Reproductive Health.
“Overall, [detaining pregnant women] is a cruel, inhumane practice,” she said. “It’s creating all sorts of unnecessary risk for the women [and their children].”
In response to the abuse claims, ICE cited its current policy on detaining pregnant women — posted on its website — and declined to comment on specific cases. The agency told BuzzFeed that it makes the decision to keep people in custody on a “case-by-case basis” based on their criminal records, risk of flight, “any known medical conditions” and whether the person is a “potential threat to public safety.”
“All detainees, determined to be pregnant, are provided appropriate education, pre-natal care, and post-natal care,” officials said in a statement. “Such care includes referral to a physician specializing in high-risk pregnancies when high risk pregnancy is indicated.”
CBP, meanwhile, referred BuzzFeed to its national standards — and DHS did not respond to its request for comment.
Source : https://nypost.com/2018/07/09/pregnant-women-in-ice-custody-claim-they-miscarried-due-to-inhumane-practices/1222