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Hispanic Caucus Members Call for Full Investigation After Migrant Woman Gives Birth to Stillborn Child in ICE Custody

Feb 26, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC--- Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, and several members of the caucus released the following statements in response to an announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that a 24-year-old woman from Honduras gave birth to a stillborn 27-week old child while in custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC).

Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus: “Medical experts have stated that detention centers do not have the necessary medical facilities to properly care for expectant mothers and that they should be released in a timely manner. However, last year the Trump Administration announced that it would detain most pregnant migrants instead of releasing them as the previous administration chose to do. As a result of this cruel policy change, we have heard several alarming stories of pregnant women receiving inadequate medical care and even miscarrying while in DHS custody. These tragedies make one thing very clear: ICE and CBP should not be detaining expectant mothers in poor conditions, and the practice of detaining these women is inhumane and inconsistent with our values as Americans. We must examine the circumstances of the unfortunate and disturbing loss of this mother's child. These agencies should reverse the policy changes that are hurting expectant mothers and instead work to protect the health and safety of all immigrants.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chair: “Any death in custody is a tragedy, and the loss mourned by this mother is no exception.  That is why we included hundreds of millions of dollars for proper care of migrants in CBP custody as part of the DHS conference agreement that just became law. I hope ICE and CBP will continue to offer details of the circumstances behind this tragic loss; we must have nothing less than a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding this tragic event, including the government’s actions.”

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), Hispanic Caucus Health Care and Mental Health Task Force Chair: “It’s heartbreaking to learn about a 24-year-old woman having a stillbirth in ICE custody. Just like we do in the Emergency Department, ICE must undertake a thorough review of their systems, processes, and culture to identify what may have contributed to this loss and what they can do to improve care for pregnant women in their custody. We must never become desensitized to tragic accidents like this, and as a nation, always strive to improve the way we care for women and children in our custody.”

Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Hispanic Caucus Women’s Task Force Chair: “There is a troubling pattern of medical negligence and disregard for humanity in the way ICE and CBP are allowed to operate under the Trump Administration. I fear this tragedy could be a consequence of that negligence. I call on the Administration to be transparent and perform a thorough investigation, so we can know what exactly happened and what can be done to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Background: Chairman Castro and Congressman Ruiz recently introduced a resolution directing U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to implement a set of minimum humanitarian standards for the treatment of individuals in CBP custody. Chairman Castro and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard co-led a letter to the Homeland Security Inspector General demanding answers after the tragic death of Jakelin Caal, and Hispanic Caucus members also investigated the circumstances of Felipe Alonzo’s death at Alamogordo Border Patrol Station.

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.