Lawmakers denounce coverup preventing immigrant women in Irwin County, Georgia from providing crucial evidence in ongoing investigations
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in leading a push to demand that the Trump administration halt any and all plans to deport the dozens of women who have come forward to report unnecessary and non-consensual medical procedures while detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga.
The lawmakers were joined by 28 Senators and 73 Representatives, including Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Reports of medical malpractice at ICDC first surfaced in September, when a whistleblower sounded the alarm about Dr. Mahendra Amin’s unethical treatment, which included non-consensual procedures, among them forced hysterectomies and sterilizations.
“In all, more than 43 women have reportedly alleged that they underwent nonconsensual and/or medically unnecessary gynecological procedures while detained at ICDC. The DHS Office of the Inspector General has reportedly opened an investigation into these allegations, and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have reportedly opened parallel criminal investigations. Additionally, an independent group of medical experts have preliminarily found that many of these procedures were unnecessary and performed without informed consent,” the lawmakers wrote. “Despite these ongoing investigations, at least six victims of the alleged nonconsensual, unnecessary, and potentially sterilizing gynecological procedures have reportedly been deported.”
“Deporting these witnesses—especially when none of them have received independent physical or mental health evaluations by medical experts—may amount to a de facto destruction of evidence, as doing so substantially impedes the ability of these women to testify in any potential criminal or civil action. The deportation of potential witnesses interferes with law enforcement’s ability to engage in meaningful review of alleged criminal acts. Because these women have provided or are willing to provide useful assistance in a criminal investigation, they may be eligible for U nonimmigrant status,” the lawmakers continued.
The letters were sent to the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tony H. Pham, DHS Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray.
The lawmakers requested that the administration immediately stay the removal of all women who have reported or witnessed allegations of medical abuse suffered while detained in ICDC, immediately stay the removal of all women who have had any appointments with Dr. Amin, and create a clear and transparent process by which all women detained at ICDC who have reported or witnessed medical abuse can identify themselves as witnesses to federal investigators.
In addition, the letter urged the administration to publicly commit to interviewing all women who submit medical records or testimony that credibly alleges medical abuse, to provide certifications for each woman who has reported allegations of medical abuse, to grant parole to women who reported allegations and have been deported, and to release immediately every woman who has reported relevant allegations of medical abuse at ICDC.
The members of Congress were joined by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Mark Warner (D-VA), and U.S. Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA-8), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), André Carson (D-IN-7), Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), David N. Cicilline (D-RI-1), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-9), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO-5), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA-11), Jim Cooper (D-TN-5), J. Luis Correa (D-CA-46), Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Val Demings (D-FL-10), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), Jesus “Chuy” García (D-IL-4), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Al Green (D-TX-9), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ-3), Deb Haaland (D-NM-1), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA-4), Joseph P. Kennedy (D-MA-4), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI-5), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA-33), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), James P. McGovern (D-MA-2), Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-1), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-28), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-5), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), Adam Smith (D-WA-9), Darren Soto (D-FL-9), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Mark Takano (D-CA-41), Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Dina Titus (D-NV-1), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Norma J. Torres (D-CA-35), Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-7), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), and Peter Welch (D-VT-AL).
The full text of the letter is available here and follows below.