Mexico Responds To Reports Of ICE Detainees Receiving Hysterectomies: ‘Unacceptable’ And ‘Major Issue’
This article features our client Dawn Wooten and was originally published here.
Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs is alarmed at reports that immigrant detainees suffered medical neglect and questionable hysterectomies in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail in Georgia, telling reporters in Mexico City Tuesday the alleged abuses were “unacceptable” and could constitute a “major issue” with the United States.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard said the government is in contact with at least six Mexican women who may have been subjected to unnecessary hysterectomies while at an ICE detention center.
The allegations were first revealed in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last week on behalf of Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
Wooten claimed an alarmingly large number of immigrant detainees had hysterectomies, a medical procedure in which the uterus is removed, and that some Spanish-speaking detainees did not understand why they needed the procedure.
Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs first addressed the reports Wednesday, expressing its “absolute rejection of any violation of the human rights of Mexican people abroad.”
The Mexican government is still investigating these allegations to confirm their accuracy, an effort led by the country’s Ambassador to the United States.
ICE told Forbes the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General will investigate the claims: “If there is any truth to these allegations, it is my commitment to make the corrections necessary to ensure we continue to prioritize the health, welfare and safety of ICE detainees,” ICE acting director Tony H. Pham said in a statement.
The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
ICE has faced an onslaught of criticism for its treatment of jailed immigrants. This month alone, ProPublica discovered that detainees in one Texas jail were routinely sexually assaulted by guards, and a congressional report found that detainees are often denied adequate healthcare and punished for submitting too many medical requests. Wooten’s allegations of “jarring medical neglect” and unneeded hysterectomies, however, have drawn an especially loud rebuke. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded an immediate investigation, calling Wooten’s reports a “staggering abuse of human rights.” Now, her reports are drawing international outrage, with Mexican authorities expressing concern.
“Of course, this is something unacceptable that we reject,” Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ebrard told reporters during a Tuesday press conference conducted in Spanish. “If it is confirmed, it must be sanctioned.”
Wooten also alleged that ICE’s Georgia jail, which is operated by a private company, has failed to protect occupants from coronavirus. The operator often refused to test detainees with Covid-19 symptoms, she said.