Central American refugees line up in Matamoros to wait for a chance to plead for asylum.
The American Civil Liberties Union late last week filed a complaint
to stop the Trump administration from turning away pregnant asylum seekers under its remain-in-Mexico policy.
The filing by the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Center argues that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is forcing pregnant women into dangerous conditions while they await asylum hearings — a violation of the department's own guidelines.
“Pregnant women should never have to worry about their safety or their health during pregnancy, and yet this is the situation CBP is forcing upon these expecting mothers,” ACLU Border Rights Center Director Astrid Dominguez said in a written statement.
More than 40,000 migrants have been sent back
to Mexico since the administration's policy began in January, according to that country's government. Human-rights advocates say the program puts migrants at risk
by forcing them to wait in violent border cities where they become easy prey for gangs and drug cartels.
The ACLU complaint documents the cases of 17 pregnant asylum seekers it says were denied access to medical care and food and exposed to unsafe living conditions by the federal government. One woman interviewed by the ACLU said a uniformed U.S. immigration official told her she should abort her baby because “Trump didn’t want there to be any more pregnant people here.”
“While the pregnant women we interviewed are among the most at-risk, there are thousands more suffering as the federal government continues to deny their right to seek asylum under the unlawful return to Mexico program," Dominguez said.
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