Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection has drawn criticism for the at least three deaths in-custody deaths since December. And now, after a 24-year-old woman in ICE custody gave birth to a stillbirth baby, immigration officials are saying it doesn’t qualify as in-custody death.
The unnamed Honduran woman – who was arrested by Border Patrol on February 18 – was six months pregnant and hospitalized and cleared for release last week on Thursday after she underwent two screenings. Then a day later, on Friday, she went into premature labor. She was about to be released from the Port Isabel Detention Center when she started to feel pain in her stomach. She delivered the baby before she could be sent to the hospital, according to the Associated Press.
In a joint statement on Monday, ICE and CBP said, “The woman remains in ICE custody awaiting medical clearance, after which she will be released from custody. Although for investigative and reporting purposes, a stillbirth is not considered an in-custody death, ICE and CBP officials are proactively disclosing the details of this tragic event to be transparent with Congress, the media, and the public.”
And while some have sided with immigration authorities, others are pointing to immigration officials’ track record of mistreating this vulnerable community. Others are also saying they find ICE and CBP’s comment hypocritical, especially given how some the phrase “life begins at conception” is used to shame women into not having abortions. On Monday night as news broke, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that Democrats “voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children.” This drove some to reply and question why the stillborn baby was not considered an “in-custody death.”