A 24-year-old Honduran woman went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby at an immigration detention center on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said.
The woman was 6 months pregnant when she was apprehended by the Boarder Patrol near Hidalgo, Texas on Feb. 18, the joint statement on Monday said.
The announcement comes as ICE and CBP are under increased scrutiny for the treatment of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers in their care. Two children – Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8 – died in immigration custody in December. In the time since, many immigrant healthcare experts have questioned whether migrants are receiving adequate medical care after they are detained by immigration authorities.
CBP and ICE said that the young woman was taken to a hospital, received two medical screenings, and was cleared for release last Thursday. She was brought to ICE custody at Port Isabel Detention Center outside Brownsville, Texas, to be processed for release in the afternoon on Friday.
On Friday evening, the woman said that she was experiencing “abdominal discomfort.” CE Health Service Corps examined her, and the clinical director said that she needed to go to a hospital. The woman told them that the baby was coming, and EMS was called.
Before medics could arrive, the woman delivered an unresponsive baby boy. The mother and child were rushed to a hospital in Harlingen, Texas, where the child was pronounced dead.
The woman is still in ICE custody, the statement said. She is set to be released after she receives medical clearance.
“Although for investigative and reporting purposes, a stillbirth is not considered an in-custody death, ICE and CBP officials are proactively disclosing the details of this tragic event to be transparent with Congress, the media and the public,” the statement said.