The issue gained more attention the next year, after a 24-year-old Honduran woman in ICE custody delivered a stillborn baby boy. She had been arrested a week earlier by Border Patrol agents in Texas, near the border community of Hidalgo, and told authorities she was six months pregnant. Homeland Security officials said the woman was taken to the hospital after she was apprehended. A few days later, she was discharged into ICE custody, where she soon complained of abdominal pain. A clinical director at the agency said she needed to go back to the hospital, but she went into labor before getting there.
An ICE spokeswoman at the time said there was no information to suggest that the woman’s detention had been a factor in the stillbirth. Still, between October 2016 and August 2018, 28 women “may have experienced a miscarriage just prior to, or while in ICE custody,” the spokeswoman, Danielle Bennett, said.
Mr. Biden has used executive orders to reverse a number of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies, including accepting more requests from asylum seekers, easing travel and visa restrictions and changing the categories of undocumented immigrants that law enforcement should prioritize for enforcement actions. Legislative fixes, however, that could provide a legal path for families seeking asylum to enter the country, appear increasingly out of reach.
John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said that uncertainty about how long a policy would remain in place “creates enormous instability” that can interfere with governing.
“It can really begin to gut the agencies, it can gut agency expertise,” he said, if, for example, a policy change leads to staff cuts but the next administration decides to “just flip the switch back on.”
This has been the case for what became one of the administration’s earliest and greatest challenges: sheltering migrant children and teenagers who have been arriving alone and in record numbers at the country’s border with Mexico.
Mr. Trump had been turning away the children under a special public health rule put in place during the pandemic. When tens of thousands of unaccompanied children started entering the country this spring after Mr. Biden reversed the policy, the previous cuts to the program left federal authorities without enough space to shelter them or enough staff to safely place them with family members already in the country.