Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29 D) led 27 of their House and 18 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act. The legislation will protect the health and safety of pregnant people in immigration detention by reinstituting their presumption of release, prohibiting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from shackling pregnant women in its custody, and setting new standards of care and transparency for the treatment of pregnant women and youth. The members reintroduced this legislation following reports from 2019 of mistreatment of pregnant women in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, including a report of a women in ICE custody whose pregnancy ended in a stillbirth after she went into labor prematurely.
“Detaining and shackling pregnant immigrants is immoral, heartless, and dangerous. This inhumane practice puts the health of both women and their babies at risk and it must never be the policy of the United States,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’m proud to join Rep. Garcia and my colleagues in introducing this critical bill—because no matter who’s in the White House, we must ensure pregnant women in DHS’ care are treated with dignity and justice and get the health care they need. I’ll keep fighting to get this bill across the finish line and ensure the mistreatment of pregnant immigrants never happens again.”
“The policy of detaining immigrants at the border must end. Period. With the reintroduction of this bill my colleagues and I are looking to protect the safety and well-being of expecting mothers, no matter which administration holds the White House,” said Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29). “The safety of expecting mothers should prevail above any partisan policy. The last Administration’s inhumane move to shackle pregnant women proves once again that Congress should provide protection and prevent this from ever happening again.”
In 2018, the Trump Administration publicly announced the end of the Obama-era policy of presumed release of pregnant women and youth in immigration detention. Under this policy, pregnant women in ICE detention do not have access to appropriate prenatal medical care and are at higher risk of pregnancy-related health complications.
The bill was first introduced in the U.S. Senate during the 116th Congress in light of reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in ICE custody, then it was reintroduced in 2019 on the heels of a Washington Post report about a woman in ICE custody whose pregnancy ended in a stillbirth after she went into labor prematurely.
The bill was cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), Reed (D-RI), Coons (D-DE), Warren (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Menendez (D-NJ), Smith (D-MN), Booker (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Duckworth (D-IL), Baldwin (D-WI), Leahy (D-VT), Hirono (D-HI), Feinstein (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Padilla (D-CA).
The bill was cosponsored in the House Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08), Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) 28), Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), Rep. Jesus G. Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Rep. James McGovern (MA-02), Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01), Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Rep. Val B. Demings (FL-10), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02).