Under the Obama administration, ICE officers were urged to release pregnant women "absent extraordinary circumstances," under which detention might be necessary. But an internal memo sent by ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan states that custody decisions for pregnant women should now be made on a case-by-case basis. The new directive states that, "absent extraordinary circumstances," pregnant women in their third trimester will still be released.
The policy change is meant to bring ICE policy closer in line with an executive order issued last year by President Donald Trump demanding stricter enforcement of immigration laws and expanding the population of immigrants targeted for deportation.
Homan's directive states that ICE will provide medical care to pregnant detainees, but immigrant advocates say that holding pregnant women in detention centers is dangerous for both mothers and their unborn children; the risk of miscarriage, for example, appears to increase for detained mothers.