Los Angeles Times: Border Agencies Return Pregnant Migrants to Mexico

A pregnant woman waits to be attended at the Maternal and Children's Hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras ( AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRAORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images
AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRAORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

Border officers are returning pregnant migrants to Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Under the headline, “Pregnant women, other vulnerable asylum seekers are returned to Mexico to await hearings,” the Los Angeles Times described how President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is reducing the ability of adventurous migrants to give birth in the United States:

When Enma Hernandez crossed the Rio Grande here illegally about two weeks ago and approached Border Patrol agents seeking asylum, she told them she was eight months pregnant.

Hernandez, 26, said she had fled Guatemala hoping to join her husband and 2-year-old daughter in Miami. Instead, U.S. immigration officials returned her to Ciudad Juarez under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Hernandez says American officials should let pregnant women remain in the U.S. until their asylum cases are decided. “We should be an exception because we are vulnerable,” she said. “It’s dangerous for us here.”

Four other pregnant migrants crossed the bridge on Thursday with her, along with a new mother carrying her 6-day-old daughter. All were in the Remain in Mexico program.

Under President Barack Obama, nearly all pregnant migrants were invited to remain in the United States pending a courtroom hearing for their asylum claims. Moreover, when the migrants lost their claims for asylum, Obama’s deputies barred enforcement officials from deporting the migrants because of their U.S.-born children, dubbed “anchor babies.”

Many migrants recognized this opportunity and rationally grabbed American citizenship for their children. However, the new policy may reduce the number of visibly pregnant migrants who try to claim asylum.

An October 2918 study by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that almost 300,000 children are born to illegal immigrants each year. That number is equivalent to one of every thirteen children born each year.

By May 17, the Department of Homeland Security had sent 6,004 migrants back to Mexico, including several pregnant migrants.

The returned migrants, however, are far slower than the flood across the border. During April and May, roughly 200,000 migrants rushed through the catch and release loopholes to cross the border.

The Remain in Mexico program — which is now called the “Migrant Protection Protocols ” — is growing because it has survived the first round of legal fights.

The policy is also nudging some migrants to return to their homes in Central America, the LAT said:

Xiomara, 21, said she left her rural hometown … to join family in Tallahasee, Fla., expecting she would be released to a U.S. shelter, as relatives had been after they crossed to Texas last month. Instead, she was returned to Juarez, also with a Jan. 15 court date. Now she too planned to return home.

In August 2018, Breitbart News reported:

From mid-December 2017 to early-April 2018, almost 600 pregnant migrants were caught crossing the border, and almost 40 were in detention on April 7, the Department of Homeland Security told Breitbart News. The agency declined to say if the pregnant migrants were returned home or were released into the United States.

The inflow of pregnant migrants in the first quarter of 2018 has jumped to 292 women, up by one-third over 2017 numbers, says a July 13 letter from four Democratic Senators to the Inspector General at DHS who asked for an investigation of the agency’s practices.

In March, amid the rise, Trump’s DHS deputies began ending the automatic-release policy for all pregnant women which was established by President Barack Obama in 2016. According to the  DHS policy, only third-trimester pregnancies are grounds for release:

“ICE has ended the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees … Generally, absent extraordinary circumstances, ICE will not detain a pregnant alien during the third trimester of pregnancy.”

Once released into the United States, most migrants evade enforcement agencies by disappearing into the population of roughly 11 million illegals and then getting jobs. Also, migrants who give birth in the United States win the hugely valuable prize of U.S. citizenship for their children — and likely, eventually, also f0r themselves — because of the U.S. government’s practice of granting citizenship to all people born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ foreign citizenship or prior deportations.

Migrants are aware of the pregnancy loophole, and some make the dangerous trip north once they are pregnant. For example, the Getty image above shows a migrant from El Salvador, seven months pregnant, who turned herself over to border agents on December 7, 2015, near Rio Grande City, Texas. According to the Getty photographer, “many pregnant women, according to Border Patrol agents, cross illegally into the U.S. late into their terms with the intention of birthing their babies in the United States.”

In August 2018, a British TV network followed a pregnant woman and her husband to the border. Once at the border, the couple separated to improve their chances of each getting into the United States:

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