Saturday, October 24, 2020

Congress delegation to inspect ICE detention center on unwanted surgeries

US Congressman from Texas Joaquin Castro speaks at a press conference in Washington DC. EFE-EPA/Alex Segura/File

Atlanta, Sep 24 (efe-epa).- A US congressional delegation on the weekend will inspect the Irwin County Detention Center in southern Georgia to investigate the multiple complaints by immigrant women that they were subjected to historectomies and other medical procedures without their consent.

The office of Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, the head of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress, reported Thursday that the 12-member committee from the House of Representatives will also “assess conditions related to the spread of COVID-19, with more than 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the last several months among detained individuals.”

The delegation includes members of the House Judiciary Committee, specifically Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (Georgia) and Pramila Jayapal (Washington), and the Hispanic Caucus, including Castro (Texas), Nanette Diaz Barragan (California) and Adriano Espaillat (New York), among others.

According to Jayapal, who called for a congressional investigation into the situation at the Irwin center, there may have been “between 17 and 18 women” who were subjected to unnecessary gynecological medical procedures at that center, often allegedly without the consent or knowledge of the victims and with what she said was the clear intention to sterilize them.

After the delegation visits the center on Saturday the members are scheduled to hold a telephone press conference “to share with the public” their findings regarding the center, located in the town of Ocilla, south of Atlanta.

The lawmakers said in a statement that the situation in which undocumented migrants are living while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody are a priority for them and since the start of the coronavirus pandemic they have inspected detention centers in Texas and Nevada and warned about the spread of the virus in those facilities.

“The (Congressional Hispanic Caucus) and House Judiciary Committee will continue to work to stop the spread of COVID-19 within ICE installations and to hold government agencies like ICE accountable for any abuses committed against immigrants in their care,” they added.

The Irwin center scandal broke last week ater several human rights organizations, including Project South and the Government Accountability Project, presented a complaint to the Inspector General’s Office at the Department of Homeland Security denouncing a series of dangerous practices occurring at the Irwin facility.

The complaint is based, mainly, on the testimony of Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked at that center and who expressed her concern over the “high number” of undocumented women who had been given hysterectomies, a surgery in which the uterus is removed, many of whom did not understand why they were being operated on.

Various sources, including attorneys, activists and women who have been detained at Irwin, identified the doctor who performed the surgeries as Mahendra Amin, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, referring to him as the “uterus collector” because he took out “everything inside.”