Woman was sent back under a Trump policy after being detained by US border patrol and given medication to halt contractions
A Salvadoran woman who was eight and a half months pregnant and experiencing contractions was apprehended by US border patrol after crossing the Rio Grande and forced to go back to Mexico.
Agents took her to the hospital, where doctors gave her medication to stop the contractions. And then, according to the woman and her lawyer, she was almost immediately sent back to Mexico.
There, she joined the more than 38,000 people forced to wait across the border for immigration court hearings under a rapidly expanding Trump administration policy. And her plight highlights the health risks and perils presented by the Remain in Mexico program.
The woman was waiting on Thursday with her three-year-old daughter in a makeshift tent camp in Matamoros, Mexico, next to an international bridge, due to give birth any day, said her attorney, Jodi Goodwin.
Shes concerned about having the baby in the street or having to have the baby in a shelter, Goodwin said.
Pregnant women face special hazards in Mexico because places where migrants wait to enter the US often dont have access to regular meals, clean water and medical care.
Many shelters at the Mexico border are at or above capacity already, and some families have been sleeping in tents or on blankets in the blistering summer heat. Reports have abounded of migrants being attacked or kidnapped in Mexican border cities, especially in Tamaulipas state across from south Texas, where the Salvadoran mother is waiting for a November court date.
The US government does not automatically exempt pregnant women from the Remain in Mexico program. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declined to comment on the womans case.
The program officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols was instituted by the US and Mexico as a way of deterring migrants from crossing the border to seek asylum. Mexico has cooperated with the expansion of the program at the behest of Donald Trump, who threatened crippling tariffs in June if Mexico did not do more to stop migrants.
The US Department of Homeland Security has said people in vulnerable populations may be exempt from being sent to Mexico. But pregnant women are not necessarily considered vulnerable by CBP, a subsidiary of the department.
In some cases, pregnancy may not be observable or disclosed, and may not in and of itself disqualify an individual from being amenable for the program, CBP said in a statement. Agents and officers would consider pregnancy, when other associated factors exist, to determine amenability for the program.
Goodwin provided copies of the 28-year-old womans immigration paperwork and the bracelet from when she was admitted to Valley regional medical center.
In this particular case, this woman was actually taken to the hospital by CBP, she said. Theres no way that CBP could suggest that her pregnancy wasnt known.