Over 500 pregnant women were detained between 2012 and 2014, across six detention facilities, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics. The trauma and stress these women experience stems from the uncertainty of their release, and wondering if it will ever happen.
Even though the Department of Homeland Security expanded protections echoing the decree to detain pregnant women and other helpless immigrants, and ICE policy prohibits pregnant women from being detained with the exception of extraordinary circumstances or because of mandatory detention, the number of detained pregnant women has recently spiked.
Record Amounts of Undocumented Immigrant Families
The mass amounts of undocumented immigrant families arriving at the southern borders dramatically increased the population at detention facilities, gaining global attention. Many of these pregnant mothers, along with their children and other family members, have crossed U.S. borders seeking asylum from sex trafficking, physical violence, kidnapping and sexual abuse.
Immigrants come to America to find family members and friends hoping our country’s system will allow them fair and just court proceedings. Conversely, they end up fearing miscarriage or other tragic outcomes for their unborn babies while held in immigrant detention centers. This often happens because they lack the ability to comprehend and execute their way through the U.S. immigration law system.
A Pregnant Detainee’s Story
Despite ICE insisting that undocumented pregnant women receive pre-natal care, a women from the Eloy Detention Center details her experience as degrading and humiliating. She and other pregnant detainees had no ability to bathe and were dehydrated after spending 48 hours in a freezing border cell. The beds provided to the women were hard, and the sitting stools were without backs for support. The detainees were woken every morning at 5:00a.m. by yelling officials. The only meals provided to them consisted of undercooked chicken, rotting vegetables and pasta and rice which left the women with little choice to either starve or eat the decaying meals.
Prenatal nurses continually dismissed their health concerns telling the women they were fine, even though they were dehydrated and showing signs of weight loss. Knowing that other pregnant women around them were suffering miscarriages created much anxiety and fear of possibly losing their own babies. Because of this, some pregnant detainees decided deportation was the only choice to save their babies lives and gave up on their asylum cases. Fortunately, the woman in this story had help from experienced immigration lawyers and social workers and was able to leave the detention center.
Investigations Shed Light on Detention Center Treatment
Investigations into the demeaning and cruel treatment of undocumented immigrant families at many detention centers brought to light the need for immigrant protection and proficient care for pregnant detainees. Many undocumented immigrants who cross the U.S. border awaiting their cases to be heard by immigrant judges have support systems consisting of friends and family that do not cost the government anything. Yet the government spends over $2.4 billion each year to detain immigrants.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin Represent Undocumented Immigrants who are Pregnant
If you are an undocumented immigrant who is pregnant or know a pregnant detainee who needs help, contact Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, PC. Our immigration lawyers in Philadelphia have experience dealing with deportation and asylum matters as well as any other legal issues relating to immigration law. Our offices are located in Center City, Philadelphia and are conveniently accessible by car, train, bus and other forms of public transportation. Call 215-925-4435 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.