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.