Media Contact

Imelda Mejia, ACLU of Texas, 346-299-6803, media@aclutx.org

September 27, 2019

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Center filed a complaint on Thursday demanding an immediate end to the practice of returning pregnant women to Mexico under the “Migrant Protection Protocols” policy and a full investigation. The complaint, filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, features the stories of pregnant women who were forced to return to Mexico and argues that Customs and Border Protection does not follow department guidance and places pregnant women in immediate danger.

The complaint details the mistreatment of 17 asylum seekers due to the lack of medical and physical care, inadequate access to food and water, and unsafe living conditions. They were placed into MPP while in CBP custody and forced to stay in makeshift encampments in Matamoros and shelters in Tijuana and Juarez, Mexico after being returned. CBP agents, under MPP, sent some of the women back to Mexico multiple times despite CBP's knowledge of their pregnancy, medical conditions like preeclampsia, needs for basic prenatal care, and inability to find safe housing and food in Mexico. Several women recounted kidnappings or attempted kidnappings once in Mexico.

One woman interviewed by the ACLU stated that a “white, tall, blue-eyed woman,” wearing a green uniform told her that she should abort her baby because “Trump didn’t want there to be any more pregnant people here.”

“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,” said Astrid Dominguez, director of the ACLU Border Rights Center. “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. We urge the Office of Inspector General to investigate the ongoing mistreatment of pregnant asylum seekers and demand an immediate end to the practice of removing vulnerable people into dangerous situations.”

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