June 11, 2013
Activists Fight Detention of Pregnant Immigrants
Lilian Cardona-Perez came to America when she was 15. The nation’s immigration and naturalization service provided her with a valid work permit which she has renewed it each year since, as required.
In 2010, Cardona-Perez was detained on a criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed. Held in Raleigh, North Carolina under the 287g program, she was screened by ICE and removal proceedings were begun.
When Cardona-Perez was first accused of a property crime.she fell into Homeland Security’s radar. She was released from ICE’s custody, on her own recognizance, but failed to appear at her initial immigration hearing and the judge ordered her removal.
Cardona-Perez was never notified of the court decision and didn’t find out until she checked in, as scheduled, with ICE on February 16, 2017. The ICE agent told her she was being deported.
Now pregnant and the mother of five, Cardona-Perez is caught in a legal no man’s land.
Cardona-Perez’s attorney points out that while Trump’s executive order regarding immigration does call for the removal of immigrants who commit crimes or reside in America illegally, but neither of those criteria fit Cardona-Perez’s case.
The detention of pregnant women goes beyond the pale of keeping America ‘safe’ or making the country great again. Instead of moving the country forward, detaining and deporting expectant mothers pushes immigration policy back 100 years.
Ineffective, Damaging and Unworkable
A paper, “Expecting Change: The Case for Ending the Immigration Detention of Pregnant Women” exposes the injustices and ineptness of locking up pregnant women who have run afoul of anti-immigration activists.
In 2011, over 90 pregnant women were held in the primary immigration detention facility, Yarl’s Wood. The prime purpose of detention is removal, yet only 5% of pregnant are removed. The report supports calls from Asylum Aid’s Charter which was signed by more than 335 agencies.
Asylum seeking, pregnant women, generally have poorer health than others and many in the report were rape victims or had been subjected to torture and trafficking. The healthcare received was inadequate and came far short of that provided to female inmates inside American prisons.
Natasha Tsangarides, the author of the report, says, “The results indicate the current policy of holding pregnant women for immigration is ineffective, damaging and unworkable. We estimate the government could save $800,000 annually if it were stopped.