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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Though majority of immigrant women in ICE detention are pregnant by rape, abortion is no option

Though majority of immigrant women in ICE detention are pregnant by rape, abortion is no option

LatinaLista — Not too long ago, Latina Lista revealed how female undocumented immigrants were being raped along the border as they made their way illegally into the country. Their panties and bras became trophies for the cowards who raped them and were hung on trees as a testament to the vile acts performed on them. The trees have become known as “rape trees.”
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Immigrant detention facility
While focus of the news has been on the trees and the creatures who are getting away with preying on vulnerable women, the story doesn’t end with the rapes. Sadly, for too many of these women, it’s bad enough that the rape will stay with them as a haunting memory but some of them will have to be constantly reminded of the rape — through the children who are conceived as a result of the rapes.
In an excellent article in the Texas Observer entitled Access Denied, it was discovered that almost 10 percent of immigrant women in detention custody of ICE are pregnant as a result of being raped.
The vast majority of these women, when given the choice as to whether or not they want the babies, understandably do not. Who would want to be reminded of an act of extreme violence perpetuated against them by a complete stranger?
Yet, the author of the article found that these women were never allowed the option of terminating their pregnancies. In fact, in 2008 and 2009, federal records show that while there were pregnant immigrant women in ICE detention facilities, not one had an abortion.


Unlike the U.S. Bureau of Prisons where 3 percent of the female population is pregnant and those women are given counseling to explore their options as to whether or not they want their babies, and if they don’t are allowed abortions, ICE doesn’t even have counselors on staff to help these women cope with their rape and pregnancies. If the women request counseling then ICE officials contract with outside counseling agencies to provide it.
It’s believed the rationale for not allowing the women to terminate their pregnancies has less to do with any kind of moral conviction but rather the objective of keeping the women ready to deport at a moment’s notice. In fact, ICE policy is to allow abortions, or “elective procedures,” if it is paid for by the woman herself.
By purposely not informing the women means ICE officials are keeping the women on “standby” to deport.

A crucial part of the government’s treatment of pregnant immigrants—one that takes place outside detention facilities—has been scarcely addressed in these studies. Attorneys in South Texas know it well: As their due dates approach, ICE often releases women on probationary status. With nowhere to go and babies on the way, ICE makes arrangements to drop the women off at shelters often run by Catholic charities. Such arrangements vary on a case-by-case basis, Bassett says. “There’s no overall relationship” between ICE and local shelters, she says.

It’s said that ICE does this to get around the thorny issues of detaining U.S. citizens since the children will be U.S. citizens — a tie to this country that most of these women would rather not have.
It’s always been known that arrogance, greed and disrespect for international human rights propelled the former administration of the Department of Homeland Security. This is yet another example of a policy in dire need of change today — not mañana.
We must ask the question: How many more women pregnant by rape stand forgotten behind the bars of federal detention needlessly waiting for a sentence that will forever keep them a prisoner of their worst nightmare?
The answer may be “too many.”

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Comment(28)

  • Avatar
    MaryElizabeth
    March 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Im hopeing that Janet Napalotano will address this issue. From my understanding most of the immigrant detentions are privately owned industry. I read that the prisons had been built with our tax dollars and these prisons receive around $180 dollars a day to detain these woman. This could be one of the reasons why these woman are kept detained up until almost their full term of pregnancy. Do the math? The private prison probably makes over 45K per victim. I often wonder why the womans movement had not stood behind this issue yet and my guess is that most woman are unaware of this issue. The ice police than drop the woman off to catholic charities. It certainly seems like the prison systems agenda is to detain the immigrant as long as they can to make the money. Reasons why I am for Immigration Reform is because of the Humanity issues and also the Economic issues. I think the system is hurting Americans when it comes to tax dollars spent, jobs and labor law issues and the Border is a mess. Also the treatment of these immigrants is horrible. We really need to do something to fix the problem. Also, I do not believe in private industry law enforcement. I like the army, Police and all forms of law enforcement includeing the prison facilitys to be government owned and regulated. Hopefully we will have reform and see the end of this discrimination against immigrants and women.

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    Hissy
    March 11, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I thought abortion was against thier religion for any reason…that is the reason so often stated for having so many children they can’t afford to feed.

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    Justice Jonesie
    March 11, 2009 at 9:23 am

    This is terrible. Thanks for making us aware of this crime against these women.

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    Sophia
    March 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I wasn’t aware of this and you are right–it is only fair and very important that these women have good counseling and a real choice about their pregnancies.
    However, all these women may not want to terminate, especially if having a citizen child may give them more of an option to stay. Also there *are* women whose personal values go against abortion and who love their children even if conceived in such a horrible way. And there are women who abort and find it a repeat trauma rather than healing the first one. Every woman is different. I heard an eloquent speaker who didn’t know if the father of her child was her boyfriend or her rapist and she said “But I did know who my child’s mother was–me–and that is what really mattered to me.” In standard pregnancy counseling it is assumed that no rape survivor could posssibly want her child, and they face strong pressure to abort. That’s not a real choice either.

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    adriana
    March 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    My thought is what will become of these children? They are a product of a cruel act, and research shows that women who do not have good relationships with the baby’s father tend to have strained relationships with the children. It isn’t as if ICE is going to raise these babies.

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    Hissy
    March 12, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Maybe they should take birth control pills before they plan thier trip just in case this evil falls on them. I am sure that is a lesser sin than an abortion to Catholics. NOBODY should be treated this way…legal or not. You do take on risk when you break the LAW. I DO NOT CONDONE RAPE BUT IT IS A WELL KNOWN FACT about the rape trees along the border. They have been forewarned.

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    JC Jimenez
    March 14, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    “They have been forewarned”?
    Hissy, that is one of the most callous comments I have ever heard. Not to mention supporting the view that rape is an inevitable part of not just crossing the border, but society in general. “Women- you are forewarned, men- rape away!”
    Also, since 1 out of every 4 rapes in the United States occurs in a public place, do you think that women in the United States out in public have been “forewarned” and should take birth control pills before leaving home?
    It’s obvious that you are anti-immigrant and hostile to women; so trying to feign an anti-rape stance fails miserably for you. You are using this as a cover to spew your hatred of these and all women. Rape is a problem that, as human beings, we need to deal with and put an end to. Blaming victims is hardly the way to do that.

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    John
    March 15, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    “It’s obvious that you are anti-immigrant……….”
    Only supporters of illegal aliens recognize these people as immigrants, which would mean that the border crossers could not claim themselves as such, unless they are hypocrites. Mexico doesn’t recognize people who cross their borders as immigrants, but as invaders to be imprisoned. No country in the world recognizes illicit border crossers as immigrants, anymore than do the people of France view Germans that occupied their country as immigrants. I’m sorry, but the fact is that few Americans will ever accept the way these people came into this country as immigration, in spite of your repetitive rants. You do what you do because you can’t stand the truth.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 15, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    JC Jimenez, that was wonderful. You said that so well. They were Forewarned?? anyone of us can be raped anywhere and many of us have been raped!! We are all forewarned by our moms and sisters but that doesnt mean it isnt going to happen. Women are raped on the Border, on the streets, at a friends party, in your own home and all women should support each other when this tradgedy happens. Remember years ago when they use to argue if she dressed sexy than she deserved to get raped…or if she was out that late she deserved it…or how about she dated alot of men anyway so she deserved it. People always seem to come up with ways to justify rape when it apply’s to a specific group of people they are mean spirited towards. If the women is white and she comes from a wealthy background all the justifications go away. Well I say there is no excuse; Rape is Rape and it doesnt matter where it happens or who the victim is. I dont care if she is wealthy, I dont care what her ethnic background is, or if she is undocumented, wealthy, rich or poor. Rape is an extreme violation to all woman no matter what the circumstance is.

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    Sandra
    March 16, 2009 at 8:11 am

    JC, are you dense? Hissy was just stating that women shouldn’t take chances of getting raped when there is a high probability of it. Crossing our border illegally is that high risk the same as women who would venture out alone after dark in this country. Rape can’t be prevented totally but you protect yourself as much as possible and don’t venture out where there is that “high probability”. In no way did she mean “men rape away”.
    Where does Hissy show in her posts that she is anti-immigrant by stating such facts? The subject isn’t about immigrants anyway but illegal aliens.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Sandra….you mean you never walk outside after dark? well as much as we try to avoid bad situations we always have to be prepared and keep our guard up. I always go with my instinct. That seems to work the best…and crossing the border…well its so dangerous these days, even more than ever now…Id like to see Border Control there because these women come through thinking..its not going to happen to me and its dangerous for the men too. They can get lost in the desert and die out there. Its really dangerous. Sandra, you can get raped anytime, anywhere so follow your instinct wherever you go. Yes, I agree with you that it is wise to take precautions. These woman did take a huge risk but I always believe that we should be supportive of any woman who has been raped. But I believe if you knew one of these women that were raped you would help them and so would I. We all post here and its actually fun to debate but I believe if any of us were in situations the goodness of our hearts would come out. You said god said you must respect the law of the land and I talked to my friend Jenny about this over lunch and we always say a pray before lunch…and even though we are in the middle of a food court in a shopping mall we still say our prayer, and Jenny says about immigration reform; God wants us to forgive and the punishment should be not much more than a fine for someone who broke the law of the land. We all make mistakes and I think you know that. My friend Jenny is Evang…and she said Jesus forgives us so we should forgive people the same way Jesus forgives us…she believes a fine for these people is enough of a punishment. I know we disagree Sandra but many Evang…are changeing on the immigration issue and various religious groups are very compassionate on the issues.

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    Tray
    March 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I would just like to say that I was raped and chose to keep my child. I did, for the first time in my life, consider the possibility of abortion. However, I know that abortion is simply murder. Even an unborn baby has a soul. I chose to keep my baby and I’m so glad I did. He’s a huge blessing to me. I was worried that I would turn that corner and see his father every day when I looked at him, but instead, I see the wonderful little person that he is. I now know that even though I was raped, I still feel like I got the better end of the deal. My life will never be the same, but I mean that in a VERY good way.

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    Panchito
    March 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    God bless you Tray. More power to you.

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    Sandra
    March 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Tray, what a wonderful story. Most women would not do what you did but I agree every life is valuable no matter how they were conceived. Glad this child brings you much joy.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Tray, God bless you for being the good soul that you are. That is true that most women would not do what you did. Your baby is blessed to have you as a mother.

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    Karen
    March 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Re: “but the fact is that few Americans will ever accept the way these people came into this country as immigration…”
    Spare me. If these people had blond hair and blue eyes, they would be welcomed with open arms no matter how they arrived here. At the core of this immigration issue, is the issue of race. There has been a 500 year war on indigenous brown people who were here first. They are called “illegal” and “alien.”
    Anybody who knows anything about history knows how absurd all of this is.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 25, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Karen, you are right about the blue eyes and blonde hair thing. When you think about how strict the legal immigration system is on family’s it is sickening and at the same time a man can order a mail order bride to come over….this is someone who he has never met or has never been here in this country. Its almost like legal prostitution. Usually the guy is so weird that American women will not date him so he orders a foreigner that is more submisive. But that is all legal! He can order a woman…bring her in…and many times he does abuse her, meanwhile our broken immigration system deports the father of a US born child. This is a very sick system. Sometimes I actually think the system is discriminating men mostly. My guess…and this is a guess? that there are more undocumented men than woman and alot of these men are dark, browned eyed and handsome. (Alot of American women like them).

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    Sandra
    March 25, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Karen, it was mostly whites that migrated here initially but todays immigration quotas favor Asians and Latinos. There is very little immigration from countries with blonde haired, blue eyed people today. They are hardly even on the radar with today’s quotas. So that blows your claims of discrimination and racism against brown people right out of the water.
    There is no war going on against Native Indigenous Americans today. The indigenous natives to this country called the USA have their soveirgn lands and all the rights of any other U.S. citizen.
    No, the only ones called illegals are those whose country is not the USA and are here without papers.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 25, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Sandra, I think Karen made a point that flew right over your head. Karen said IF..IF..IF the immigrant’s that came here today were blonde with blue eyes they would not be discriminated like the immigrant’s that are coming into our system today. Karen did not say blonde hair and blue eyed immigrants are coming in. Americans know that the majority of immigrants that come in today are not blonde with blue eyes.

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    Horace
    March 26, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Sandra, the very fact that these advocates of illegal aliens are disputing the right of the people of the United States to regulate their own immigration policies shows that they are in league with Mexico, and that advocates have very little respect for the sovereignty of this country. How can one be a loyal citizen and claim that Mexicans and other nationals of foreign countries have a right to take up residency without following our laws. One has to ask, given amnesty and a guest worker program, whether their brothers and sisters who are not already here will respect the rules under CIR, if it implemented, and those beneficiaries of it further illegal immigration will come back with the same simplified justifications that they use here today. After the 1986 amnesty, why should we believe the current advocates when they say that CIR will be the panacea for the present problem. The answer is that CIR will solve nothing, but only serve to appease the current anarchists and generate future anarchy in our immigration process.
    People like Marisa, Irma, ME and Panchito will once again trot out the same rationalizations they use today to accommodate those who would find CIR to be an obstacle tomorrow. The same thing would happen to CIR as what happened under the 1986 amnesty in the past. Once again Hispanic politicians would eventually find CIR to be an impediment to their ambitions to gain power.

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    Sandra
    March 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Karen and ME, and you know that whites wouldn’t be discriminated against if they came here illegally TODAY, how? No, the same rules apply to them today and those whites here illegally in our country need to be deported just like any other illegals. Your race card pulling as usual doesn’t cut it.
    If we favored white immgrants today then why are the legal quotas so low for whites but much higher for Asians and Latinos? You are just blowing smoke as usual.

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    Sandra
    March 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Exactly, Horace! The advocates want to legalize the illegals already here. Being the so-call humanitarians that they claim they are, what about the millions more that want to come here and would try to illegally after that? It would just be the same old BS all over again. The advocates would be screaming racism again and want the next batch amnestied. Where does it end? When our populaltion is at 800 million and we have commited national suicde all in the name of being humanitarians? When do the citizens of the world start pushing for change in their own countries instead of looking at us like the saviors of the whole world all the while making our own citizens suffer under the strain of it all? Stupidity knows no bounderies here.

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    MaryElizabeth
    March 27, 2009 at 12:40 am

    I am in league with Mexico…(that is really funny)lol. Let’s see I went on a cruise years ago and it stopped for 6 hours in Kosumel. I had a drink in a nightclub and danced a little. I enjoyed myself with friends and a drink,..and that is the story of Mexico and Me. (My association with Mexico).Lets see… Ummmm….and the reason why the flood of people came into the US after 1986 is because the legal immigration system was broken and the border was the only way in. Years ago my Italian ancestors came here on a boat to Ellis Island and that was because they could (they were allowed to come in)…and some say that years back immigrants found loopoles too…and documents were forged and purchased and alot of your ancestors came here illegally also and you do not even realise that the only reason why you are legally American is because you were born here. Who are you kidding?? Do you actually think all your ancestors followed the laws?? People do whatever it takes to survive and then people get greedy and try turn the US into their own monopoly of what they want it to be and then people like me fight to save our country to keep it the beautiful unique diverse successful melting pot that it is. People will always come here all different ways. An open immigration policy is the smartist way. Economic factors have and always will govern the amount of immigrants that want to come here to the US.

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    Liquidmicro
    March 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    What exactly is broken about the Immigration System? Or is it that you think we should allow anybody who wishes to come here to come. Where is your protection for the American Citizen? How are you going to make every other country in the world do the same? Quit spitting rhetoric and start solving all the problems, the trick is to do it fairly, and to do it equally. Don’t forget the unintended consequences of your answers as they will be pointed out.

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    Sandra
    March 28, 2009 at 7:44 am

    ME, “Open immigration”? God, what an idiot! Think girl!!!
    I don’t care whose ancestors might have come here illegally decades ago, it has nothing to do with today’s policies. Geez, are you saying that if once jaywalking was legal and now it isn’t, we should dishonor the current law because it was once legal? Our immigration policies had to change with the times. Our populationw grew. Demand for resources increased with population growth and a whole array of other demands came with population growth.
    As I said, claiming the economy justifies illegal immigration into our counry is so full of holes, that it is ridiculous to say the least. If employers needed additional foreign labor then why didn’t they notify our government about it? It is because they wanted cheap illegal labor instead to line their wallets with more profit. You are siding with these crooks!
    This issue has nothing to do with the melting pot either. It is about coming to our country the legal way no matter who you are.

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    Alessandra
    March 28, 2009 at 9:08 am

    The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 promised to “correct” any deficiencies in our immigration system. That was the reason for passing this Act. In return for giving amnesty to millions of people illegally residing in our country, we were promised that “henceforth, our borders will be secured, our immigration laws enforced, and we will never again revisit the issue of amnesty.”
    The system wasn’t “broken” after the passage of this Act in 1986, the new laws were just not enforced as we were promised. That’s how we ended up where we are. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that with a CIR anything will change. And this disregard for our sovereignty and laws–on the part of employers as well as foreign nationals–must end.

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    Marisa Treviño
    March 28, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Sandra, discussing immigration like we do on this site can be frustrating when defending our views. However, I’m going to ask that you refrain from the name-calling. While everyone does it from time to time, I find you to do it more often. Just make your point. Thanks.

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    Marisa Treviño
    March 28, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Allesandra, I disagree. I think there is a heightened awareness of just how badly things can escalate if laws aren’t enforced. I have high hopes, and I don’t think it’s too idealistic, to think that this CIR will work. Will it work perfectly? What policy/law ever works perfectly but I think there will be a greater effort because, this time around, there are a lot more eyes focused on it and when something is not working, bloggers will fill the gap on informing everyone.

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