Chula Vista, CA — More alleged abuses by Border Patrol agents are emerging following a Guatemalan mother’s ordeal. In a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Administration (HSA), a Guatemalan woman was forced to give birth while standing and fully clothed as she was being detained at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station near San Diego.
She had complained of pain and was clearly pregnant but her cries for help apparently fell on deaf ears. Her husband heard a baby’s cries coming from the mother’s clothing. He pulled down her pants to reveal the baby had already been born. The husband, and her two other children looked on.
Following the birth, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with Jewish Family Services of San Diego filed an official complaint. The documentation was accompanied by a U.S. Congressional letter signed by 12 congressmen and women demanding HSA open an investigation into the woman’s allegations as well as other similar ones. The legislators also recommended pregnant women be given special treatment and not held in any facility more than 12 hours.
According to Buzzfeed News the woman and her family were turned away at the border on several occasions:
The family participating in the ACLU’s complaint, whose names were redacted from the complaint for their safety, is from Guatemala. Like many asylum-seekers in their situation, the family was fleeing violence and persecution in their home country. The father and 27-year-old mother traveled from their home with their two young daughters and arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego in mid-May 2019, nine months before she gave birth. They were sent back to Mexico and spent nine months in a camp in Tijuana, presenting themselves at the border for three separate immigration hearings, the complaint said.
Unfortunately, their violent oppressors learned of their presence in Tijuana and began making threatening phone calls promising the family they were not safe in Tijuana and vowing to come get them in Mexico. Instead of waiting around any longer on the slow immigration process to unfold, the family took action to cross the U.S. border illegally.
They began to harass her and threaten her, saying they knew she was in Tijuana and could come find her and her family. Their next immigration hearing wasn’t until May, a year after they first arrived at the border, and the family decided they couldn’t wait any longer. They set out to cross the border illegally, outside the port of entry, understanding they were likely to be apprehended by ICE, but that they would be safer in US detainment than in the camps.
They got caught and taken to the holding facility in Chula Vista, CA. Immediately after being taken into custody the husband requested medical attention for his pregnant wife. For two days he was supposedly pleading for help to no avail. Finally, the baby could wait no longer and when push came to shove was delivered while the woman was standing and holding onto the side of a trash can.
Predictably, the U.S. Border Patrol issued their own statement regarding the birth of the baby in the most inhospitable of places some might say. The statement reads in part:
The incident occurred Feb. 16, at approximately 2:30 p.m., when a Border Patrol agent apprehended a Guatemalan family consisting of a father, two children, and a pregnant mother after they crossed the border illegally. The apprehending agent could visibly see that the woman was pregnant; however, the mother did not appear to be in distress and did not request any medical attention. The family was transported to a local station for processing. At the station, the on-site medical staff conducted routine medical assessments on the family. During the assessment, the mother complained of abdominal pains and the staff noticed that she was in labor. The medical staff, along with agents, prepared an area for the mother to give birth. The 27-year-old Guatemalan mother delivered a girl at approximately 3:00 p.m. Prior to the birth, agents had contacted emergency medical services (EMS), who later transported the mother and newborn to a local hospital for further care immediately following the delivery. The mother and baby are currently in stable condition.
The family has already disputed the contention they did not ask for help after being apprehended. Once the staff, admittedly, noticed she was in labor, she should have been transported to the hospital.
Why should a young mother be forced to give birth in a “prepared” “area” for her to bring the child into the world? For all intents and purposes the holding facility is more likened to a jail than a hospital.
It is shameful enough to be holding an in-labor mother behind barbed wire fencing let alone forcing her child to be born beside a trash can. Something has to be done to end the inhumanity at the border. The lawmakers who signed the letter demanding an investigation also suggest letting anyone who is pregnant pass over the border.