According to recent government statistics, at least 420 pregnant Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) have been arrested and detained over the last federal fiscal year. As of October 17, 43 pregnant illegal immigrant girls were still being held by the Health and Human Services Department, according to court documents citing Jonathan White, the department’s director for children’s programs.

Of the 420 girls contemplated in fiscal year 2017, 11 girls had abortions of the 18 who requested them. Five had second thoughts and rescinded their abortion requests. Two were released to sponsors in the United States before a final decision was made, which means they were no longer in government custody. Since the federal fiscal year began on October 1, 2016, some of those abortion would have occurred during the Obama administration.

As a result of a class action suit filed by the leftist ACLU, the government made the numbers known. The ACLU is demanding that foreigners who have entered the United States should be accorded the same access to abortion that citizens and legal residents have in the country. Last month, the ACLU won a case in which a 17-year-old illegal immigrant girl identified only as “J.D.” or “Jane Doe” was allowed to have an abortion. The case went all the way to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a deeply divided panel of judges ruled the federal government had to facilitate her abortion, even if it meant spending taxpayer money. Currently, the Trump administration is fighting the ACLU, arguing that because there are no pregnant girls in government custody seeking abortions in government custody there is no need for a class action lawsuit.
Lawyers for the federal government have accused the ACLU’s lawyers of legal legerdemain, and are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and overturn the precedent set by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Under existing law, UACs are illegal aliens under age 18 who are caught at the border and thus must be quickly processed by Homeland Security and released to social workers at Health and Human Services. HHS must then attempt to place them with sponsors. While in the custody of the federal government, UACs are kept in shelters provided by government contractors. According to the Trump administration’s argument, HHS policy has the authority to approve or disapprove all major surgery for UACs.

In the case of the 17-year-old gir, the federal government had initially denied the request for an abortion. Having fled her parents in Mexico, the girl did not want to tell them she was pregnant nor obtain their permission as required under Texas law before a minor can obtain an abortion. She received permission ultimately from a state judge, which is permitted under law. The girl had made arrangements to pay for the abortion so that the procedure itself would not be at taxpayers’ expense. However, because a HHS was required to send a staff member with the girl, and to provide post-abortion care, taxpayer funds were involved. The federal government argued that this broke the law. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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