For Immediate Release: July 9, 2021


We Are Home Campaign Responds to New ICE Policy Guidance on Detention of Pregnant, Postpartum and Nursing People

Washington, DC — Today Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new policy guidance that limits the detention of pregnant, postpartum, and nursing individuals in ICE detention, but ICE officers and agents retain discretion to detain some people who are pregnant, postpartum, and nursing under “exceptional circumstances.” 

Immigrant advocates welcomed the new policy as a positive step forward that addresses some of the worst abuses of women in the custody of ICE. There was a significant increase in the detention of pregnant and nursing immigrants under President Trump and this new policy guidance begins to turn the page on the intentional cruelty of the prior administration.

Key provisions of the memo include:

·       Generally people who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing should not be detained;

·       Exceptions for those who are determined by ICE to pose “national security” or other concerns;

·       Requires personnel to notify higher offices before arresting someone who is pregnant, postpartum or nursing and requires ongoing monitoring of anyone determined to be pregnant, postpartum or nursing;

·       Also generally prohibits the use of restraints except in “extraordinary circumstances,” but never for someone who is actively in labor or delivery.

Members of the We Are Home Campaign offered the following statements in response:

Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director at Detention Watch Network, said:

“Immigration detention is not necessary for any person as they navigate their immigration case, especially pregnant, postpartum and nursing individuals. Immigration detention is inherently abusive, and while we welcome the shift away from the Trump administration’s inhumane approach, we know that the Biden administration can and must do more. As long as ICE continues to be funded at an astronomical level, we will continue to see people, no matter how vulnerable, jailed in immigration detention centers. The Biden administration must direct ICE to release people from detention centers, cut contracts and shut down facilities for good.”

Isa Noyola, Deputy Director of Mijente, said:  

“The announcement today should be the start of many more to come from the Biden administration and leadership of DHS and ICE. This directive is only a starting point, it’s only a part of what the community has been demanding – to release vulnerable populations like trans  and HIV-positive people seeking asylum and an end of the human rights abuses inside detention that happen to every one every day.”

We Are Home is a nationwide campaign to fight for immigrant communities on three fronts: prioritizing and demanding a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; a moratorium and overhaul of interior enforcement; and broad affirmative relief from deportation. We Are Home is co-chaired by Community Change/Community Change Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)/Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers/UFW Foundation; and United We Dream.