Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia Introduces the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act

June 27, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Garcia (TX-29) and 33 Democratic cosponsors introduced the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act. The bill will protect the health and safety of pregnant women and youth in immigration detention by reinstituting their presumption of release, prohibit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from shackling pregnant women in its custody, and set new standards of care and transparency for the treatment of pregnant women and youth.


Rep. Garcia’s legislation is the House companion to Senator Patty Murray’s bill, S. 648 and comes in light of recent reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. Garcia said:


“The policy of detaining immigrants at the border must end. Protecting the safety and well-being of expecting mothers is a baseline requirement for decency within our government, and this Administration’s recent move to begin shackling pregnant women proves once again its reckless disregard for humanity,” said Congresswoman Garcia. “The Trump Administration must calibrate their moral compass and this legislation will assist our work towards justice and dignity.”


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 new 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 last summer in light of reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in ICE custody and was reintroduced on the heels of a recent Washington Post report about a woman in ICE custody whose pregnancy ended in a stillbirth after she went into labor prematurely.

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Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas 29th Congressional district.