Yesterday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) announced that it would no longer be following the Obama-era policy of releasing the pregnant woman it detained. The policy shift comes directly from the Trump administration and falls more in line with the President’s executive order last year that ordered ICE to target and deport anyone who is living in the U.S. illegally. By contrast, the Obama rules directed ICE only to detain and deport criminals who had recently crossed the border.
It was widely assumed that pregnant women would continue to be protected under the old Obama order, which said expecting moms were only to be held in mandatory detention when they committed certain crimes or were eligible for expedited removal. But now, many suspect that Trump’s newest immigration policy means that the number of pregnant immigrants detained, arrested, or even deported by ICE will skyrocket over the next few years.
Philip Miller, a top member of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, told CNN that the new policy won’t radically change the agency’s approach to detaining immigrants. According to Miller, ICE currently has 35 pregnant women in custody and has detained 506 pregnant women since December.
“To mischaracterize this as some kind of wholesale change or Draconian change is inaccurate,” Miller said. “We’re aligning this policy, as all of our policies, with executive orders from the President.”
Immigration has become one of the most divisive topics in the modern political landscape, and the newest order from the Trump administration will likely cause further division between the Right and the Left. Trump’s handling of immigration remains controversial, as many feel he is unfairly targeting parents and has been accused of needlessly tearing families apart. The President has made no attempt to hide his aggressive immigration policies — this is, after all, the same person who centered his campaign on building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico — and his administration has drastically increased the number of immigrants held in custody compared to previous presidencies.