Donald Trump's draconian border rules are putting pregnant women seeking asylum in the US in grave danger

Forcing people to wait at the borders has seen expecting mothers languish in horrible conditions, lacking food and medical care. Even if they safely give birth in Mexico, it jeopardizes women's chances of making it to the US

                            Donald Trump's draconian border rules are putting pregnant women seeking asylum in the US in grave danger
Donald Trump (Source : Getty Images)

Over the past few months, the US administration led by President Donald Trump has put several thousand asylum-seekers — a vulnerable lot — into a cruel program that forcefully sends them back to Mexico before their applications are processed by the American immigration personnel.

The purpose of this program is to make the availability of asylum so difficult that people give up and surrender to their fate. And as these asylum-seekers remain stuck at border areas, they fall prey to all sorts of criminal activities like kidnapping, sexual assault, and extortion.

As people are forced to wait in dangerous conditions because of the Trump administration's forced-return policy called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), expecting mothers are facing the maximum hardship apart from children and infants. 

Members of a caravan of Central Americans who spent weeks traveling across Mexico walk from Mexico to the US side of the border to ask authorities for asylum on April 29, 2018, in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico. More than 300 immigrants, the remnants of a caravan of Central Americans that journeyed across Mexico to ask for asylum in the United States, have reached the border to apply for legal entry (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

According to a report in the Associated Press in September, women who were on the verge of giving birth were not being spared by the Border Patrol and were forced to return to Mexico.

Pregnant women who experienced contractions were treated for the same before being sent back to Mexico. They were forced to stay in unfavorable conditions with little food, clean water, and medical care — putting their own lives as well those of their newborns in jeopardy. 

Does the US not consider pregnant women vulnerable?

The US government has not bothered to give pregnant women a humanitarian exemption although the US Department of Homeland Security had said that people in "vulnerable populations" may be exempted from being sent to Mexico.

However, pregnant women were not necessarily considered vulnerable by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which is a subsidiary of the department, the AP report added.

"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. Agents and officers would consider pregnancy, when other associated factors exist, to determine amenability for the program," the CBP said in a statement.

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the US-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

There are more problems for pregnant asylum-seekers. Mexico provides limited health coverage to people irrespective of their nationalities, making it difficult for the helpless expecting women to get the required medical care before delivery.

Moreover, delivering their babies on Mexican soil also creates challenges to the prospects of such families to enter America, eventually.

Trump doesn't want any more pregnant women in the US

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, have filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration for forcefully pushing people into Mexico, but it's still a major threat to asylum seekers.

According to a blog report in ACLU penned by Rochelle Garza, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Texas, nearly 50,000 people have been placed under the draconian MPP so far.

One pregnant woman who was interviewed by the attorneys even said that a CBP officer told her that she should abort her unborn child since the president himself didn't want any more pregnant women in the US.

Central American asylum seekers wait for buses to take them to Tijuana on the US-Mexico border on April 24, 2018, in Hermosillo, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

"Instead of welcoming asylum-seekers, as the US has successfully done for decades, the Trump administration has engaged in a campaign of misinformation to provide cover for unlawful policies against people fleeing persecution," Garza wrote.

"This inhumane policy is not aimed at any national security interest or protecting us from serious criminals. It's an attempt to make it nearly impossible for anyone, no matter what terror they're fleeing from, to enter into the US," Garza added.

That the administration has shown little concern for young asylum seekers was evident from the stats that it has ordered 16,000 migrants aged below 18 (including nearly 500 babies) to wait with their families at dangerous locations in Mexico as hearings went on in American immigration courts.

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