The immigrant women allege that a doctor conducted nonconsensual gynecological procedures while they were at Irwin County Detention Center.
The women who allege that a doctor conducted nonconsensual and medically unnecessary gynecological procedures on detainees at Irwin County Detention Center could potentially be witnesses in an ongoing federal investigation into wrongdoing at the facility.
National interest in the allegations of medical abuse at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia was sparked in September when a whistleblower report by a nurse, Dawn Wooten, alleged that a doctor, Mahendra Amin, was performing unwanted hysterectomies on immigrant detainees.
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Yet according to the hospital where Amin practiced, just two women in ICE custody had been referred for hysterectomies. Scott R. Grubman, Amin’s lawyer, said in a statement that the doctor “has always treated his patients, including those who were in ICE custody, with the utmost care and respect.” Adding that his client is not involved in immigration proceedings, Grubman said the doctor is “confident that he will be completely exonerated.”
A Troubling Pattern
But after the allegations gained national attention, an independent team of medical experts reviewed more than 3,200 pages of medical records from 19 women at the center who allege mistreatment, The Washington Post reported. During the course of the investigation, the reviewers found what they consider to be a pattern of subpar care. This includes incorrect diagnoses and a failure to secure informed consent for surgery, among other procedures.
A Move to Deport
Attorneys for the women allege that in the weeks since the probe began, ICE has quickly moved to deport several of the women who sounded the alarm before they can finish working with the investigators on the case. At least three federal lawsuits have been filed on behalf of three who claim they were nearly deported, a move that they say would violate their First Amendment rights.
For this reason, on Nov. 19, a group of more than 100 congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), demanded in a strongly worded letter that ICE release female detainees from the Georgia detention facility.
The letter was addressed to acting ICE Director Tony Pham as well as the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, the offices which are conducting the investigation. It calls for the women to receive the required certifications to apply for U-visas, which allow undocumented immigrants who have helped law enforcement to apply to stay in the country legally.
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The congressional Democrats demanded a “clear and transparent process” for women detained there to identify themselves as witnesses. They also asked that all women who have reliable allegations of medical abuse be interviewed, and that any woman making allegations to investigators be allowed to reenter the country and apply for a U-visa.
In response, ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett said in a statement that ICE was “fully cooperating” with the investigation, and that “any implication that ICE is attempting to impede the investigation by conducting removals of those being interviewed is completely false.”