ICE Will No Longer Detain Pregnant Or Nursing Immigrants, Biden Administration Announces
Esta historia está disponible en español en La Noticia.
The Biden administration directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to no longer detain immigrants who are pregnant, nursing or within one year postpartum in a new policy announced Friday.
The agency’s Acting Director Tae Johnson said in a statement that the new guidance on detentions is a reflection of ICE’s “commitment to treat all individuals with respect and dignity while still enforcing our nation’s laws.”
Immigration attorney Rebecca O’Neil of the Carolina Migrant Network says the policy is an additional tool for attorneys who argue that their clients should remain in the United States. But she says this is only a policy decision that can be changed by another administration. Real change, she says, will require a change in law.
“I mean, the fact that this could be seen as good news or progress really speaks to how badly we need comprehensive immigration reform in this country,” O’Neil said.
She says under the Obama administration, ICE officers would often take into account whether someone was pregnant before determining whether to detain them. But O’Neil says there was no similar guidance under the Trump administration.
A 2019 Government Accountability Office report found the total detentions of pregnant women rose from less than 1,400 in 2016 to nearly 2,100 in 2018.
“It's extremely sad that we live in a country that deports any parent of any child of any age from this country,” O’Neil said. “If somebody is protected from being deported until their child is a year old, when their child reaches their first birthday, we're still going to take them away from their child. I don't think there's a magic age at which people don't need to be with their family.”
However, O’Neil points to the gender-neutral language of the policy as a step forward. She says in years past, policies from both Democrats and Republicans would use gendered language, such as specifying women should not be detained. The policy uses the word "individual" instead.
“The language used is important,” O’Neil said. “We've all been learning a lot about how harmful and exclusionary that language is. So I will say that I appreciate that the language in this policy is gender-neutral.”
She says this announcement is inclusive of transgender or nonbinary immigrants.