ICE no longer exempting pregnant women from detention

PHOTO: A Customs and Border Protection officer watches a house as Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) ICE agents detain a suspected MS-13 gang member and Honduran immigrant at his home, March 29, 2018, in Brentwood, New York.PlayJohn Moore/Getty Images
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The Trump administration will no longer automatically exempt pregnant women from detention in ICE cases, the agency has announced, and critics are calling the move "an egregious human rights offense."

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In a directive issued in December 2017, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan superseded his previous memo to ensuring that "pregnant detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for immigration violations are identified, monitored, tracked and house in an appropriate facility," officials told reporters Thursday.

Since the policy was signed in December of 2017, ICE has had 506 pregnant detainees, and currently have 35 in custody.

Pregnant detainees are now treated like every other person that ICE detains, the acting director said on a conference call, adding that each case is evaluated on an individual basis.

Prenatal care is available to the women in ICE custody, Homan said, noting that standard practice dictates all women between the ages of 15 to 56 take a urine pregnancy test. Pregnant women have access to an offsite OBGYN within their first seven days of detention.

ICE officials also said that they are just following direction from the President.

Critics called the new policy "an egregious human rights offense."

"Detention creates serious health risks, and many women have medical needs that cannot typically be addressed in a detention setting," the American Immigration Lawyers Association and American Immigration Council said in a joint statement Thursday.

Together with several other advocacy groups, including the ACLU, AILA and AIC in September filed a complaint decrying "the lack of quality medical care provided to women who are pregnant or have suffered miscarriages while in custody."

ABC News' Serena Marshall contributed to this report.