ICE Just Gave Itself Permission to Detain More Pregnant Immigrants

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement have ended their default practice of releasing pregnant detainees, according to internal documents reviewed by The Daily Beast. (You can read the full directive, which was released later on Thursday, here.)

This is all thanks to President Trump’s “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” executive order, which essentially beefs up the severity and enforcement of existing immigration law:

Although Federal immigration law provides a framework for Federal-State partnerships in enforcing our immigration laws to ensure the removal of aliens who have no right to be in the United States, the Federal Government has failed to discharge this basic sovereign responsibility. We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.


While pregnant immigrants were still detained by ICE prior to this policy shift—with dangerous consequences—the previous directive, at least on paper, recommended release as a general practice. Now, pregnant immigrants will only be released from detention according to an ICE officer’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.

But according to an FAQ that came with the directive, as reported by CNN, ICE will only detain pregnant people, “whose detention is necessary to effectuate removal, as well as those deemed a flight risk or danger to the community.” Because this administration, in its rhetoric and enforcement practices, treats all immigrants as though they are a “danger to the community,” those words are cold comfort.

In the first four months of Trump’s presidency, ICE arrests of women increased by 35 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

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About the author

Ashley Reese

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.