ICE refuses to count detained woman's stillbirth as a death in its custody


Thanks to the Trump administration's policy of presumptively imprisoning pregnant border-crossers, a young Honduran migrant suffered a stillbirth while in ICE custody last week.

A Honduran migrant woman suffered a stillbirth last week while she was detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She was only detained in the first place because the Trump administration changed the rules about locking up pregnant women — and now, ICE is refusing to count the infant as a death in its custody.

It's the latest example of how the Trump administration humiliates and harms people who cross our Southern border in search of a better life, especially parents and children.

The 24-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld, had been arrested in Texas on Feb. 18 when she was six months pregnant. Just a few days later, she went into early labor and delivered a premature child, who was pronounced dead shortly after his birth.

Although this woman's child died in the custody of ICE, stillbirths have their own category, along with miscarriages, so that ICE doesn't have to count this tragedy as an in-custody death.

The fact that a pregnant migrant woman was in custody at all is thanks to a Trump-fueled departure from previous rules. Previously, pregnant detainees were presumptively released. Thanks to a policy change in March of last year, however, pregnant detainees are now presumptively imprisoned, including pregnant women who are seeking asylum.

Even though the Honduran woman was imprisoned by our government, and even though locking up pregnant migrant women in the first place is arguably unjust and can cause serious health risks, ICE is treating the death of this woman's child as something that has nothing to do with the United States or her imprisonment. Rather, it is classified as a mere accident of reproduction.

Over the course of the last year, the Trump administration's commitment to cruelty at the border has been truly breathtaking. And that cruelty has disproportionately fallen on children, two of whom have died in ICE custody just in the last few months.

In early December of last year, a 7-year-old girl in the custody of the border patrol died of dehydration, a death Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen blamed on the family of the child rather than this administration's senseless imprisonment of children. Just a short time after that, another child, an 8-year-old boy, died of the flu while in Border Patrol custody.

The only humanitarian crisis at the border is the one Trump and his allies have created. And it's a crisis that harms defenseless children, pregnant women, and their unborn children.

"Pro-life president," indeed.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.