Honduran Woman Delivers Stillborn Baby in ICE Custody

Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

A 24-year-old Honduran woman delivered a stillborn infant while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody last week, the agency, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement on Monday.

According to the agencies, the woman, who was six months pregnant, went into premature labor while in custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Los Fresnos, TX, on Feb. 22. The infant was pronounced dead at the Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, TX. The agencies did not identify the woman, who they said is still in ICE custody waiting for medical clearance.

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The statement said Border Patrol arrested the woman shortly before midnight on Feb. 18 near Hidalgo, TX. Border Patrol then took her to the hospital, where they said she received two medical screenings. She was cleared for release on Feb. 21 and transferred to ICE custody on Feb. 22, per the joint ICE/CBP statement.

While being processed for release that day—after four in custody—the woman began to report “abdominal discomfort.” ICE Health Service Corps examined her, and the clinical director ordered the woman to be taken to the hospital, the statement said. ICE called EMS, but the woman said she was going into labor. The health service gave the “unresponsive male infant” CPR, per the agencies’ account, and the infant and the woman were taken to the medical center in Harlingen, where the infant was pronounced dead.

“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 agencies’ statement reads.

The woman’s stillborn delivery follows the deaths of two migrant Guatemalan children while in government custody. In December, 8 year old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died on Christmas Eve after being diagnosed with a “common cold” after a week-long custody. Earlier that month, 7 year old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of dehydration and exhaustion. After the children’s deaths, CBP announced that Border Patrol would be “conducting secondary medical checks” on all children in custody, and would review policies with a “particular focus” on the custody of children younger than 10.

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Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan