When Jennye Pagoada Lopez arrived at the US border post of San Ysidro in July seeking political asylum, she showed agents ultrasound images of her pregnancy and told them she was bleeding and needed immediate medical attention.
But instead of taking her to the hospital, they detained her for more than a day before transferring her to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.
It took two days to get a medical exam. Four days after that, she was informed that she had a miscarriage.
That was the account she gave in a sworn declaration to her lawyers.
“I was neglected, subjected to abusive conditions and denied medical treatment when requested,” she testified.
Pagoada is among ten women whose testimony was included in a complaint filed this week against the US Department of Homeland Security by seven rights groups accusing immigration officials of improperly detaining pregnant women and failing to provide them with adequate medical care.
The complaint — made to the department’s inspector general and civil rights officer — alleges that the women suffered physical and psychological harm and asks the department to investigate the cases and report on what steps immigration authorities will take to enforce its policies on the detention and treatment of pregnant women.
“We are gravely concerned with the agency’s failure to abide by its own policy against detaining pregnant women, the detention conditions that have been reported by pregnant women in various detention facilities across the country, and the lack of quality medical care provided to women who are pregnant or have suffered miscarriages while in custody,” the complaint said.
Since August 2016, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had a policy of not detaining pregnant women unless under “extraordinary circumstances,” and in those cases providing access to “immediate counselling” and “full range of reproductive health care options.” Read more