Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with 21 co-sponsors, on Tuesday introduced legislation to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from detaining and shackling pregnant migrant women.
The Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act, which has been endorsed by 17 social justice organizations, would prohibit immigration officers from detaining pregnant women in most circumstances and improve standards of care for those in custody.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that in our country pregnant women are being detained, shackled, and denied the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy,” Murray said in a press release about the legislation. “The Trump Administration should immediately reverse course on this heartless and dangerous policy that puts the health of mothers and infants at risk.”
Murray told BuzzFeed she introduced the legislation in response to a recent report from the news outlet on detained migrant women who say they were shackled around the stomach, abused and neglected while pregnant. Several women who spoke to BuzzFeed said they miscarried due to maltreatment.
“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors,” one woman from a detention center in San Diego told Buzzfeed. “They wouldn’t look after me. I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. 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.”
The Trump administration in December ended Obama-era protections for pregnant women. While the guidelines under former President Obama discouraged the detainment of migrant women, the Trump administration now allows ICE to detain women not yet in their third trimester.
ICE told BuzzFeed they have detained more than 500 pregnant women since December, according to Murray’s press release.
The 21 co-sponsors include Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Warren, Booker and Harris signed onto a letter in April alongside several other Senate Democrats questioning ICE’s standards on detaining pregnant women. The letter, addressed to CE chief Thomas Homan, was written in response to the announcement that the agency was planning to treat pregnant detainees the same as any others.
“In light of reports that ICE has failed to provide critical medical care to pregnant women in immigration detention — resulting in miscarriages and other negative health outcomes — this policy change is particularly alarming,” the letter reads.
Booker on Tuesday told BuzzFeed that he hopes Murray’s bill will gain bipartisan support, but even if it does not, “perhaps by bringing this to the public’s attention, it will change practices.”