Media Contact

Edward Sifuentes, ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, 619-501-3408,

January 22, 2020

Stop Detaining Pregnant People

Civil Rights Attorneys File First of Four Complaints to Independent Oversight Agency Related to CBP’s Mistreatment of Detained People

SAN DIEGO – Today, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) and ACLU Border Rights Center filed an administrative complaint with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security calling for an immediate review of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) treatment of pregnant people detained in CBP and U.S. Border Patrol facilities.

Between March and July 2019, ACLUF-SDIC staff interviewed more than 100 people soon after their release from CBP custody, documenting numerous disturbing accounts of abuse and mistreatment, including abuse of people who were pregnant during detention.

For example, one pregnant woman said she was repeatedly slammed against a chain link fence by a Border Patrol agent. Another woman said she experienced a miscarriage while detained in a Border Patrol facility for 12 days, but did not receive any hygienic products or medical care.

“CBP routinely fails to treat its vulnerable detainees with the dignity and respect that all people deserve,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, senior staff attorney for the ACLUF-SDIC. “Anyone who is pregnant requires heightened medical care. CBP and Border Patrol detention facilities are categorically unsuitable to provide this level of care.” Today’s administrative complaint is the first of four the ACLU will file in coming weeks. Subsequent complaints will address the mistreatment of sick children, family separation and verbal abuse reported by people wh0 were detained in CBP and Border Patrol facilities. In all four complaints, the ACLU’s priority recommendation is that no individual be held in CBP or Border Patrol detention facilities longer than the time required for initial processing – which in no case should exceed 12 hours. A copy of this press release and the complaint can be viewed here: