Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform legislation under consideration in the Senate that would protect pregnant women detained by immigration officials from shackling and unnecessary restraint. The amendment extends an existing Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) ban on shackling pregnant women to include all pregnant women in detention or held under detainer.
"As we work to reform our broken immigration system, we must ensure our laws treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve. Whether you're an American citizen or an immigrant makes no difference; no pregnant women should be chained to her hospital bed while in labor," said Senator Murray. "Shackling and restraining pregnant women detained by immigration officials is sickening and dangerous to both the mother and the child, so I'm proud to work with my Republican colleague, Senator Crapo, on this common-sense amendment."
"The United States is a nation of laws, but also a nation of compassion," said Senator Crapo. "Shackling a pregnant detainee is an unnecessary and outdated law enforcement practice that is strongly opposed by the medical and criminal justice communities. Both Senator Murray's home state and mine have enacted laws that would humanely care for pregnant prisoners. As a husband and father, I am proud to join my colleague from Washington to put a stop to this cruel treatment."
The Murray-Crapo amendment would ensure all pregnant women detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not be subjected to restraints, except in extraordinary circumstances. These restraints, or shackles, increase a woman's chances of miscarriage, accidental falls, and life-threatening blood clots and pose deadly risks to the fetus. Already, 18 states, including Washington and Idaho, have passed legislation prohibiting or restricting the shackling of pregnant prisoners.
The Murray-Crapo amendment has support from organizations across the country, including:
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Church World Service
The Episcopal Church
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
U.S. Jesuit Conference
American Jewish Committee
National Immigration Law Center
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Caring Across Generations
We Belong Together: Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform
Asian American Justice Center
National Domestic Workers Alliance
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Family Values @ Work
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
National Organization of Women
Center for Community Change