December 22, 2020

Government Accountability Project and Project South Stand Behind Detained Immigrants’ Class Action Lawsuit Against ICE

WASHINGTON—In the wake of the whistleblower disclosures by nurse Dawn Wooten, detained immigrants have come forward to file a class action lawsuit against ICE, LaSalle Corrections, and Georgia gynecologist Dr. Mahendra Amin, among others. As part of a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, at least 40 women provided declarations and 14 served as plaintiffs that they were subject to nonconsensual and invasive procedures by Dr. Amin while detained at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC). Their complaint, detailed in a 160-page document, includes instances of physical assault, detainment in solitary confinement, and even threatened or actual deportation for speaking out about abuses by Amin. Lawyers and advocates note that Monday’s filing underscores the increasing number of women stepping forward with allegations against Amin, signaling an institutional pattern of neglect by ICE.

Government Accountability Project and Project South serve as co-counsel for Ms. Dawn Wooten, a nurse at ICDC who suffered retaliation after raising concerns internally about concerning medical practices and conditions she witnessed at the facility. Her disclosures to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, including reports of several detained immigrant women undergoing forced sterilizations with dubious consent, went viral in September of this year after reporting by The Intercept and dozens of other media outlets. Ms. Wooten’s disclosures, which prompted several ongoing agency investigations and calls from Congress to stop the horrific abuses, catalyzed more than 57 women to come forward with their stories of medical misconduct at the hands of Dr. Amin and ICE.

Dana Gold, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel and lawyer for Ms. Wooten, stated:

“Ms. Dawn Wooten’s brave decision to come forward about the abhorrent conditions at Irwin have driven widespread calls for reform desperately needed to address the systemic abuses of immigrant detention. That Ms. Wooten’s disclosures created the space for the survivors to come forward to seek justice through this lawsuit is a testament to the important role whistleblowers play in exposing, stopping, addressing and preventing wrongdoing and harm through the power of truth-telling. This lawsuit not only validates the substance of Ms. Wooten’s disclosures, but the reason she spoke out: to make a difference.”

Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South Legal and Advocacy Director and lawyer for Ms. Wooten, and co-counsel in the class action on behalf of the detained women survivors, commented:

“We are seeking an immediate end to the egregious retaliation against the women who spoke out against the abuse, release of the women who have suffered medical abuse, and compensation for the harms that the survivors suffered. It is high time for this facility rife with human rights violations to be shut down and for ICE and LaSalle to be held accountable.”

Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x156

Contact: Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South Legal and Advocacy Director
Phone: 404-574-0851

Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Project South

Project South is a Southern-based leadership development organization that creates spaces for movement building. We work with communities pushed forward by the struggle– to strengthen leadership and to provide popular political and economic education for personal and social transformation. We build relationships with organizations and networks across the US and global South to inform our local work and to engage in bottom-up movement building for social and economic justice.