Immigration detention is dangerous for the health and rights of women and girls. Detention facilities fail to provide adequate women’s health care or enforce acceptable standards of care. Moreover, they routinely inflict abuse and neglect that further damage the physical and mental health of women and girls in immigration custody. 

By Nora Ellmann

Detention policies and practices have expanded in scope and cruelty under the Trump administration, which has targeted immigrant women of color who are at the nexus of a political agenda steeped in white supremacy and misogyny. Yet the violations of women’s health and rights in immigration custody transcend one administration. In its current form, the U.S. immigration detention system is antithetical to reproductive justice, denying freedom and bodily autonomy and separating women from their families and communities.

A humane immigration system would seek to limit the scope of detention, especially for particularly vulnerable groups, and instead increase investment in community-based alternatives to detention while implementing evidence-based, trauma-informed standards of care and strong accountability measures for those detained. Achieving such a system requires robust, transparent data and the end of policies that target and undermine the health and rights of detained women and girls.

A new Center for American Progress report, “Immigration Detention Is Dangerous for Women’s Health and Rights,” assesses violations of women’s health in immigration custody in key areas such as maternal health, reproductive autonomy, mental health, and sexual abuse.1

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