WASHINGTON— Today, the Biden Administration announced a new directives that will discourage Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from arresting and detaining nursing and pregnant women. In extraordinary circumstances of detention, the directive requires they be housed in appropriate facilities where they can receive the specific care they need. In 2017, the Trump administration ended “the presumption of release policy” for pregnant women, leading to drastically higher incarceration rates.
“Pregnant and nursing women do not belong in detention, and I’m pleased the Biden Administration has taken this first step to prevent their unnecessary detention and reverse a terrible Trump-era policy,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This is an extremely vulnerable population, and we must do everything possible to avoid the stressors and negligent treatment associated with incarceration. The accounts we received of the treatment of pregnant women in custody were horrific, and we must ensure the changes made with this directive are permanent and not easily undone by future administrations.”
Rep. Grijalva led 30 Members of Congress in calling for the GAO report into the treatment of pregnant women in detention. The GAO accepted the request and released the report in March 2020 that showed a lack of data and transparency concerning pregnant detainees and a startling lack of quality health care.
“I will continue fighting to reevaluate the overuse of incarceration in this country,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “It is time to move beyond a system of detention that is based on profits, and to instead humanize these individuals. “Pregnant women should not be treated as a threat, but provided safety and connected with necessary resources to navigate their immigration proceeding while ensuring positive health outcomes for both the mother and child.”
Since 2015, Rep. Grijalva has introduced the Justice is Not for Sale Act to prohibit federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private prison companies and to end immigrant family detention.