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Border Patrol 'welcomes' investigation into birth at Calif. station

Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO -- Customs and Border Protection pushed back Thursday on a complaint from a Guatemalan woman who gave birth at a Border Patrol station in Chula Vista.

The woman's complaint, filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish Family Service, asked the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to investigate what happened since Border Patrol's account of the situation at the time was so different from the woman's version of events.

CBP disputed the woman's story on Thursday in a statement, saying that Border Patrol agents follow the agency's detention standards.

The agency "strongly disagrees with the unsubstantiated allegations against our agents," a CBP spokesman said.

"The allegations do not equate to what we know to be common practice at our facilities," he added.

The woman's complaint says that Border Patrol agents ignored her requests for immediate medical assistance when she was apprehended in February and was instead taken to a station for routine processing with her husband and two daughters. She was eight months pregnant and in substantial pain, according to her account.

 

The woman, who has been identified only as Ana, said that she was standing due to her pain, despite an agent's order to sit, and clutching the side of a trash can for stability when she partially gave birth to her daughter in her pants, according to her complaint. She said agents and medical staff reached for the child, some without gloves.

"Although joyous about the birth of her child, (Ana) felt humiliated after realizing she had been surrounded by about 20 strangers, including multiple Border Patrol agents and other unknown detained men, while she gave birth," the complaint says.

CBP said that according to its records, Ana was undergoing a medical assessment at the station when staff realized that she was in labor.

"They quickly mobilized to successfully deliver her baby," a CBP spokesman said, noting that Ana was soon transported to a hospital.

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