Immigration and In-Custody Deaths
March 19, 2019
According to records, at least three in-custody deaths have been reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and other government entities tasked with security at the United States’ border with Mexico. However, a recent announcement of a pregnant woman giving birth to a stillborn baby boy may indicate that other in-custody deaths have happened but are being called something else.
This specific incident happened in late February to a pregnant woman from Honduras who had been detained while trying to cross into the U.S. While in custody in a detention center, she complained of abdominal pain. By the time emergency medical responders arrived, she had delivered a stillborn child.
Yet Homeland Security personnel have gone on record as stating that this is not an in-custody death and should not be treated as such.
This could be considered a rather perplexing turn of events, especially in a political environment where President Trump has been vocal about his belief that life begins at conception.
Why Deny an In-Custody Death?
Stillbirths occur in about one percent of all pregnancies in the United States. They are considered relatively rare because the majority of women get proper care. However, if a pregnant woman has problems that go undiagnosed or untreated, her child may not receive the oxygen or nutrition needed for to it live and be born. Plus, some situations that cause physical and psychological trauma can contribute to stillbirths.
Concerns abound for the conditions the pregnant woman and other female detainees like her experienced while in detention centers. People with extensive knowledge of this situation have said that female detention centers are not set up for optimal prenatal healthcare. Further, reports indicate that some female detainees are being shackled, which can constrict not only movement, but potentially blood flow.
In addition to issues about the state of detention centers, immigration advocates are wondering aloud about the hesitancy to call a stillborn birth an in-custody death. Many believe that the problem may be semantics mixing with politics.
In the past several months, a few in-custody deaths have put U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in hot water. Two of the in-custody deaths were of elementary school-aged children, leading to plenty of negative publicity and a growing concern for the human rights of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
All who arrive along the United States-Mexico border deserve fair treatment. Those who are pregnant and detained in U.S. custody should be allowed to continue their pregnancies safely, and therefore be given medical attention to lessen the likelihood of stillbirths or premature births.
This would certainly be consistent with the message the United States government seems intent on sending to its people and the world – that all life is precious and deserves protection.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Help Immigrants Who Suffer Injustices
If you have been involved with an in-custody death on the border, or any other issue with immigration, please contact a Philadelphia immigration lawyer at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC to discuss your circumstances. For a free initial consultation call 215-496-0690 or use our online form to make contact. From our offices in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Pennsylvania, the tri-state area, New Jersey, and nationally.