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Who Counts at the Border?

A 24-year-old Honduran woman went into early labor and delivered a stillborn baby while she was in custody at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in South Texas last week. The official joint statement from ICE and Customs and Border Protection, released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, reports that the woman, “whose name and identifying details are being withheld in order to protect her privacy,” was six months pregnant when she was apprehended on Feb. 18 by U.S. Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Texas. The agencies further indicate that she was taken to a hospital, given two medical screenings, and then cleared for release on Feb. 21. The woman was then transferred to ICE custody on Feb. 22, where she was supposed to be processed for release. It’s not clear why she was to be released, though there had to be a reason, given that in 2017, the Trump administration changed the prior policy of presumptive release for pregnant women to a policy wherein they are treated like all other detainees, meaning they’d be processed on a case-by-case basis.

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