On Friday, federal immigration authorities published a new guideline stating that pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding migrant women should not be detained.
In addition to safeguards for pregnant migrants, the move also applies to transgender migrants who can give birth.
“ICE is committed to safeguarding the integrity of our immigration system and preserving the health and safety of pregnant, postpartum and nursing individuals,” Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said in a statement.
“Given the special requirements of this group, we will not hold pregnant, postpartum, or nursing women unless release is forbidden by law or extraordinary circumstances occur. This demonstrates our commitment to treating all persons with decency and respect while upholding our country’s laws.”
In 2018, ICE discontinued the practise of immediately releasing pregnant prisoners.
Thousands of women were detained as a result of this strategy. There are now around 20 women in federal custody who fit the requirements of the new policy.
“Any change in presidential administration can materially change people’s lives, especially immigrants and folks who are kind of trying to navigate their way through the immigration system,” immigration advocate attorney Breanne Palmer told The New York Times.
The issue has taken on a new level of concern after an expecting mother being held by ICE experienced a stillbirth.
Since taking office, Biden has reversed several Trump-era immigration rules by executive order.
More hawkish immigration opponents argue that pregnant women should be turned away at the border to prevent their children from being born as United States citizens.