Reps. Maloney and Escobar Seek Answers on Mistreatment of Pregnant Migrants

Jun 7, 2019
Press Release
Congresswomen send hearing requests to Committees on Oversight and Reform, Judiciary, and Homeland Security

Following reports that pregnant migrant women are being unfairly targeted and mistreated by federal immigration and law enforcement agencies, Congresswomen Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) are calling for Congressional hearings to investigate how the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy is affecting these vulnerable women.

In their letters to the committees, the Congresswomen state, “Migrants prosecuted under [“zero tolerance”] are remanded to U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) custody, where many pregnant women are reportedly experiencing lapses in prenatal and gynecological care that endanger both them and their child.[1] For instance, women were reportedly shackled when accessing prenatal and postpartum care, which, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, compromises the health care women receive in numerous ways.[2] Rewire.News reported that some women were even shackled while giving birth.[3] Advocates also report that, immediately after giving birth, women in USMS custody were forced to hand their newborns to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).[4] This is barbaric, and these stories provide additional examples in a long line of ways in which the Administration has willfully mistreated migrants and separated families in the name of border security. The officials responsible for these actions should be held accountable, and Congress should demand that they respond to these horrific reports.”

Full text of the letters below and PDF can be found at the corresponding links:

 

Dear Chairman [Cummings/Nadler/Thompson] and Ranking Member [Jordan/Collins/Rogers],

We write to respectfully request that the Committee on [Oversight and Reform/Judiciary/Homeland Security] hold hearings investigating the treatment of pregnant migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

We are deeply disturbed by reports that federal immigration and law enforcement agencies are targeting and mistreating pregnant asylum seekers, and in the process, endangering the lives of both the women and their children. Rewire.News recently published a wide-ranging investigation detailing the impact the Trump Administration’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy has had on its treatment of pregnant migrants apprehended at the southern border. Since this policy was enacted, there has been an increase in prosecutions,[5] and, according to advocates, when pursuing prosecution, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, “seem to be choosing pregnant asylum seekers as their sacrificial lambs.”[6]

Migrants prosecuted under this policy are remanded to U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) custody, where many pregnant women are reportedly experiencing lapses in prenatal and gynecological care that endanger both them and their child.[7] For instance, women were reportedly shackled when accessing prenatal and postpartum care, which, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, compromises the health care women receive in numerous ways.[8] Rewire.News reported that some women were even shackled while giving birth.[9] Advocates also report that, immediately after giving birth, women in USMS custody were forced to hand their newborns to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).[10] This is barbaric, and these stories provide additional examples in a long line of ways in which the Administration has willfully mistreated migrants and separated families in the name of border security. The officials responsible for these actions should be held accountable, and Congress should demand that they respond to these horrific reports.

We appreciate that the Committee has initiated an investigation into the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, and we urge you to include the issue of treatment of pregnant migrants in the ongoing investigation of the “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

We look forward to working with you on investigating this matter and thank you for your consideration of this request.

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[1] Vasquez, “Meet the Federal Agency Helping to Criminalize Pregnant Migrants,” https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/14/meet-the-federal-agency-helping-to-criminalize-pregnant-migrants/.

[2] American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG committee opinion: Health Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Incarcerated Women and Adolescent Females, 2011 (reaffirmed 2019), https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Health-Care-for-Underserved-Women/Health-Care-for-Pregnant-and-Postpartum-Incarcerated-Women-and-Adolescent-Females.

[3] Tina Vasquez, “OB-GYN Says U.S. Marshals Service Is Shackling Detained Pregnant Migrants,” Rewire.News, May 14, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/14/ob-gyn-says-u-s-marshals-service-is-shackling-detained-pregnant-migrants/.

[4] Tina Vasquez, “Trump Administration Separates Some Migrant Mothers From Their Newborns Before Returning Them to Detention,” May 28, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/28/trump-administration-separates-pregnant-migrants-newborns-before-returning-detention/.

[5] Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, Illegal Border Crossers: Prosecutions Continue To Rise, August 6, 2018, https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/524/#f1.

[6] Tina Vasquez, “Meet the Federal Agency Helping to Criminalize Pregnant Migrants,” Rewire.News, May 14, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/14/meet-the-federal-agency-helping-to-criminalize-pregnant-migrants/.

[7] Vasquez, ““Meet the Federal Agency Helping to Criminalize Pregnant Migrants,”https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/14/meet-the-federal-agency-helping-to-criminalize-pregnant-migrants/.

[8] American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG committee opinion: Health Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Incarcerated Women and Adolescent Females, 2011 (reaffirmed 2019), https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Health-Care-for-Underserved-Women/Health-Care-for-Pregnant-and-Postpartum-Incarcerated-Women-and-Adolescent-Females.

[9] Tina Vasquez, “OB-GYN Says U.S. Marshals Service Is Shackling Detained Pregnant Migrants,” Rewire.News, May 14, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/14/ob-gyn-says-u-s-marshals-service-is-shackling-detained-pregnant-migrants/.

[10] Tina Vasquez, “Trump Administration Separates Some Migrant Mothers From Their Newborns Before Returning Them to Detention,” May 28, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/28/trump-administration-separates-pregnant-migrants-newborns-before-returning-detention/.