ICE: Let’s put pregnant women in jail

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 9.45.15 PMICE is changing an Obama-era policy of generally releasing pregnant migrants from custody. Now ICE policy is official: put them all in jail. Except, maybe, for those in such advanced stages of pregnancy that they wouldn’t be able to board a plane to be deported.

Also in today’s news: The two-mile strip of fencing near Calexico, California may be a danger to the environment, but it’s not Trump’s border wall, no matter what he claims. The Calexico project was planned back in 2009 as a replacement for a 1990s fence. Trump even threatened, in one of his previous tirades against California, to block it just because someone in California wanted it.

And in other news:

  • Vox’s explainer on census/citizenship question
  • How Sessions is singlehandedly making deportation easier and changing the entire system
  • And personal stories: NCAA coach, Los Angeles families, father of three university students.

Jailing pregnant women

Trump administration ends automatic release from detention for pregnant women (Washington Post, 3/29/18)

“The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era policy that ordered immigration officials generally to release pregnant women from federal custody, U.S. officials said Thursday….

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the new policy follows Trump’s executive order last year directing them to target anyone in the United States illegally. His order reversed President Barack Obama’s instructions to mainly detain and deport criminals and those who had recently crossed the border….

“Advocates for immigrants swiftly rebuked the new policy, which comes months after the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women’s Refugee Commission and others filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security about the treatment of pregnant detainees. They said that ICE offered inadequate care and that the detention harmed women who had been raped or had high-risk pregnancies. Some miscarried.”

ICE paves way to detain more pregnant immigrants (CNN, 3/29/18)

“According to Philip Miller, a top official in ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, as of March 20, there were 35 pregnant women in detention in ICE’s custody. Since December, 506 pregnant women have been detained, Miller added….

“ICE will also lean towards releasing pregnant women if they are in their third trimester, Miller said mainly because they would not be allowed to fly and thus couldn’t be deported in that trimester, and will also make an effort for detention facilities to provide services to pregnant women and parents.”

A September 2017  report from Huffington Post gives more background:

Two women say they lost pregnancies in immigration detention since July (Huffington Post, 9/27/17)

“A 2016 memo states that pregnant women should only be locked up in immigrant detention centers in “extraordinary circumstances.”  

“Despite this, the agency acknowledges detaining hundreds of pregnant women annually. Three of them miscarried in ICE custody so far this year, according to the agency ― the same number reported last year.

“But two additional women told HuffPost they have also lost pregnancies since July, raising concerns among lawyers and immigrant rights groups that the Trump administration is detaining pregnant women in greater numbers, putting the health of women and the babies they’re carrying at risk in the process.’

Whose wall? 

Trump tweets that his border wall construction has started. It hasn’t. (Los Angeles Times, 3/28/18)

“First and foremost, this isn’t Trump’s wall,” Jonathan Pacheco, a spokesman for the Border Patrol’s El Centro Sector, told those in attendance. “This isn’t the infrastructure that Trump is trying to bring in…. This new wall replacement has absolutely nothing to do with the prototypes that were shown over in the San Diego area.

“The Times called and emailed the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday to clear things up. When asked whether the wall replacement and Trump’s wall were the same thing, a spokesperson gave a one-word email reply: “Yes.”

Trump says border wall construction has begun (The Hill, 3/29/18)

“A number of environmental groups and the state of California sued, but a U.S. District Court judge ruled in February that the federal government had the right to disregard environmental laws to build sections of the border wall, including the 2-mile strip in Calexico.”

And in other news

Here’s one I’ve been waiting for—Vox’s comprehensive, readable explainer on the census citizenship question. The citizenship question on the 2020 census, explained (Vox, 3/29/18)

Sessions pushes to speed up immigration courts, detentions (NPR, 3/29/18)

“Sessions is using his authority over the immigration court system to review a number of judicial decisions. If he overturns those decisions, thousands of other cases could be affected…. This could reshape the nation’s immigration courts, which are overseen by the Justice Department …

“It’s rare for an attorney general to exercise this power, but Sessions has done it four times in the past three months.

“Separately, for the first time, the Justice Department is setting quotas for immigration judges, pushing them to resolve cases quickly in order to meet performance standards.”

She coached her team to the NCAA tournament. Then she quit, for her daughter. (Washington Post, 3/28/18)

“She has to take her 6-year-old daughter Ngoty back to Senegal — 4,000 miles away — to finalize her adoption, and the U.S. government won’t say when they can come back.

“It could be months. Or years….

“The coach’s personal turmoil is unfolding as international adoptions are plunging to their lowest levels since 1973, from more than 22,980 in 2004 to 4,714 adoptions in 2017, according to the National Council for Adoption, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that analyzed federal statistics released last week.”

A dream displaced (Los Angeles Times, 3/29/18) In the Los Angeles suburb of Lincoln Heights, 70% Latino, fear haunts many families, “fearful of the white vans and unmarked black cars that might come for them with any missteps.

[Twelve-year-old José], who is autistic, still depended on his parents to get through social events in their Lincoln Heights neighborhood. That made his parents anxious, but the unease was compounded by a secret they guarded.

“They were living in the U.S. illegally, and the boy they had raised since he was an infant was not, in the eyes of the law, their son. They had always been too scared to enter the court system to formally adopt him, but these days they regret not having done it before, during what felt like more lenient times.

“Jose, born in Los Angeles, is a U.S. citizen — and any day he could be taken from them.” 

He begged ICE to let him see his daughter graduate. But he’s an easy target for removal. (Huffington Post, 3/26/18)

“The 51-year-old father of three had been regularly checking in with the agency for seven years without a problem. But when Garcia arrived for his most recent appointment in Atlanta, in January, the agency detained him.

“Garcia told the officer he wanted to stay in the U.S. until at least May 2019, when his eldest daughter will graduate from medical school. He hoped to watch her walk across the stage at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and accept her diploma. If he could just be present for that moment, he’d buy his own ticket to Guatemala, the country he left 23 years ago to seek asylum in the U.S.

“The officer said no.

“Garcia’s been locked up in detention ever since.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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