'I Felt Like a Criminal': U.S. Officials Tried to Handcuff Caravan Asylum Seeker Moments After She Gave Birth

Immigration officials reportedly attempted to handcuff a Honduran asylum seeker moments after she gave birth in a U.S. hospital.

Honduras national Maryury Elizabeth Serrano Hernandez, 19, is believed to be the first member of the Central American migrant caravan to have given birth after scaling the border wall separating Mexico and the U.S., Fox News reported Thursday. The young woman was more than seven months pregnant when she began her journey to the U.S. in a bid to make a better life for her unborn child.

After entering the U.S., Serrano Hernandez was detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents along with her 20-year-old husband Miguel Ortiz and their three-year-old son. Fearing for their safety as angry Mexicans protested the caravan’s arrival in Tijuana, the couple decided to cross the U.S. border illegally.

GettyImages-1063395866 Migrant men climb the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Playas de Tijuana, northwestern Mexico on November 18 GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images

Quickly, the Honduran immigrant began to feel abdominal pains and was transferred by authorities to a local hospital, where she gave birth to a baby boy. According to her husband, immigration officials attempted to handcuff Serrano Hernandez directly following the delivery. They also stood guard throughout the birth and monitored everyone entering and exiting the room.

“I felt like a criminal,” the young woman said.

Three days after the delivery, the family was transferred to a detention center in San Diego, according to Univision. Serrano Hernandez’s husband was also given an ankle bracelet, and their property was confiscated.

President Donald Trump and right-wing supporters have recently taken aim at “birthright citizenship,” which grants American nationality to anyone born on U.S. soil. Opponents of the policy, which is enshrined within the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, argue that foreigners have “anchor babies,” or travel to the U.S. to give birth, ensuring their child has American citizenship and potentially helping the family immigrate permanently to the country.

In an October interview with Axios, Trump slammed the long-standing policy, inaccurately arguing that the U.S. is the only country in the world to grant citizenship to all babies born within its territory.

GettyImages-1053877150 Mounted Border Patrol officers at the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California on October 26. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

“We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States...with all of those benefits," he said, revealing that he planned to sign an executive order to end the practice. In reality, about 30 countries around the world have the same or similar laws.

Many legal scholars argue that Trump’s executive order would be unconstitutional. But there is some debate about the wording of the 14th Amendment, which says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Some constitutional experts suggest that the term “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” could be interpreted differently by the courts. If Trump were to move forward with such an executive order, a legal challenge would likely go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Despite her family’s detention, Serrano Hernandez is just happy that her son was born in the U.S., saying it was a “big reward” after the long journey. “With the faith in God, I always said my son will be born there (in America),” she said.

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