From [DallasNews] Five Texas Democratic members of Congress signed a letter demanding that the Department of Homeland Security explain why it has detained 525 pregnant women this year for immigration proceedings.
A 2016 policy states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement should only detain pregnant women in "extraordinary circumstances." But several women, including seven in Texas, describe receiving inadequate care — being denied extra blankets, food and prenatal resources — and three suffered miscarriages, according to an American Civil Liberties Union memo referenced in the letter.
"Attorneys and advocates are reporting a marked increase in the number of pregnant women with serious medical concerns coming to their attention in recent months, and a seeming shift in the agency's willingness to release pregnant women once the pregnancy is identified," according to the letter.
Democratic Reps. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Lloyd Doggett of San Antonio, Filemon Vela of Brownsville and Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen were among 70 members of Congress who signed it. The letter demands numbers in the next 30 days on how many women are in detention and for how long they have been there as well as details on how the "extraordinary circumstances" rule is applied.
"Texas leads the country in the rate of maternal mortality right now, so we should be acutely sensitive," O'Rourke told The Dallas Morning News. In addition to improving health outcomes, ensuring pregnant detainees are able to stay with family members or community volunteers would save taxpayer dollars, he added.
He cited instances in his home district of El Paso when DHS released immigrant mothers into the community.
"It didn't harm our safety or our security in the community, so there's no security risk in ensuring that these women are able to be with family or get the needed medical help," he said.
The letter comes after several controversial immigration lawsuits filed against federal immigration agencies. The ACLU sued Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement last week for detaining a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy apprehended on her way to emergency surgery. She was released Friday. [MORE]