Stop imprisoning pregnant women

(Five Days of Action for Children in the Immigration System, Pt. 3)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is ending its practice of automatically releasing pregnant women from detention. In the for-profit immigrant detention system where good medical care impacts the company’s bottom line, healthcare is substandard and detention for pregnant women can be harmful.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

“Pregnant women and adolescents should have access to high levels of care, care that is not available in these facilities. The conditions in [Department of Homeland Security] facilities are not appropriate for pregnant women or children.”

Detention should be dropped in favor of less costly, more humane alternatives. For example, in June 2017, ICE ended a successful program called the Family Case Management Program. According to Ann Schlarb, the senior vice president of the GEO Group, the private prison company that ran the program, 99 percent of the program’s participants “successfully attended their court appearances and ICE check-ins.”

Tell Congress

Congress should pressure ICE to revoke a policy of imprisoning pregnant women by default, in favor of other approaches the agency has demonstrated will work to pursue civil immigration violations without risking the health of women or their pregnancies.

Thank Rep. Jayapal and Rep. Smith for addressing this issue in part through the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017 (H.R. 3923), which would substantially reform the immigrant detention system. Rep. Jayapal also wrote an opinion piece about this issue in The Hill. Ask both our senators to introduce a similar bill to the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act in the senate (Rep. Jayapal is asking Sen. Booker to introduce the bill, but why not Washington state’s senators?) 

Congress should ask the DHS Office of the Inspector General to investigate the medical care given to pregnant women in detention to ensure it meets standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


ICE will detain pregnant women, ending previous policy.”  Rafael Bernal. The Hill, March 29, 2018.

In ICE detention, pregnant women face stress, trauma, and inadequate care.” Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and Representative Pramila Jayapal. The Hill, April 25, 2018.

A New Official ICE Policy Calls for the Detention of Pregnant Women.” Katie Shepherd, American Immigration Council. Immigration Impact, March 30, 2018.

Systemic Indifference: Dangerous & Substandard Medical Care in US Immigration Detention.” Human Rights Watch, May 8, 2017.

AAP, medical groups urge ICE not to detain pregnant women.” APP News, April 2, 2018.

Good News

Governor Inslee and Secretary of State Wyman have found funding for statewide postage paid ballots! They cited the King County's decision to pay for ballot postage. Give yourselves a hand!