WSJ Report: ICE memo guarantees pregnant migrants the right to abortion, will facilitate travel

An undated memorandum reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveals that top U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are set to release new directives for detention centers, stating that female migrants in custody are entitled to abortions.

According to the WSJ, if the pregnant woman is being held in a state where abortion is illegal, the directive specifies that they should be transferred to a state where they can obtain one.

The memo was issued by the Acting Director of ICE, Tae Johnson, and is addressed to Corey Price, who heads the agency’s enforcement division. An official familiar with the memo told the WSJ that the directive is expected to be sent later this week.

“This memorandum serves as a reminder of existing ICE policies and standards requiring that pregnant individuals detained in ICE immigration custody have access to full reproductive health care,” the memo states. “This is also a reminder that, pursuant to existing ICE policy, it may be necessary to transfer a detained pregnant individual within an area of responsibility (AOR) or to another AOR, when appropriate and practicable, in order to ensure such access.”

As the WSJ noted, ICE’s current health regulations state that abortions will be facilitated for immigrants in custody in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. ICE issued a policy in 2021 instructing officers to avoid arresting or detaining pregnant women.

The memo arrives at a time where many abortion advocates are seeking to find ways to bypass Republican abortion bans. Some Democrats have suggested placing abortion clinics on federal lands, while one doctor recently announced plans to create a floating abortion clinic in the Gulf of Mexico, which would operate outside of the jurisdiction of the southern states.

While President Joe Biden has been criticized for his lack of action to fight such abortion bans, he has insisted that the “fastest route” to restore abortion rights is to “pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage on my desk.” However, he added that in order to do so, “two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House” are needed. He called on voters to make this happen. “Your vote can make that a reality,” Biden said.



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