HIDALGO, Texas (AP) — Immigration officials say a 24-year-old woman delivered a stillborn baby while in custody last week.
They say the Honduran woman was about six months pregnant when she went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn boy on Friday after having been hospitalized but cleared for release a day earlier. She had spent four days in immigration custody.
In a joint statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, two separate agencies that fall under the homeland security department, said the woman was arrested by the Border Patrol on Feb. 18 near Hidalgo, Texas.
Authorities haven’t identified the woman and said they’re not releasing any more details.
CBP and ICE said the woman was taken to a hospital and released on Feb. 21 after undergoing two screenings.
The woman was then transferred to ICE custody and was in the process of being released from the Port Isabel Detention Center when she complained of stomach discomfort. An ambulance was called, but the woman delivered the baby before she could be sent to the hospital.
The government says a stillbirth isn’t considered an in-custody death. But this follows at least three in-custody deaths since December.
A 45-year-old Mexican man died while in Border Patrol custody last week, and two children died late last year while in custody. They include 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo Gomez, who died in custody at a New Mexico hospital on Christmas Eve, and the Dec. 8 death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal in El Paso.
The Border Patrol has struggled to keep up with a growing number of families with children who come to the border, many seeking asylum. Agents regularly see large groups of hundreds of people at a time, and some require medical care but are in remote areas without hospitals.
Agents also have very limited medical training, and the agency has had to deploy special units to help with medical emergencies in areas like western New Mexico, where a growing number of Central American migrants are crossing the border.