Pelosi Calls For Investigation Into Claims Of Mass Hysterectomies, Poor Covid-19 Care At ICE Detention Center
This article features our client Dawn Wooten and was originally published here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for an investigation into a Georgia ICE detention center where a whistleblower complaint from one of the facility’s nurses detailed health care abuses, including questionable hysterectomies and a refusal to test for and report coronavirus cases.
Pelosi said, if true, the “appalling conditions described in the whistleblower complaint” are a “staggering abuse of human rights,” in her statement asking for an immediate investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
Several legal advocacy groups filed the 27-page whistleblower complaint with the DHS’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency’s internal watchdog, on Monday, on behalf of nurse Dawn Wooten, citing testimony from Wooten as well as several detainees.
Wooten, who worked full-time at the Irwin Detention Center in Georgia until July, said the facility would send many detainees to see a particular gynecologist outside the facility who she described as the “uterus collector.”
Wooten said that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy” in the complaint, detailing situations in which some of the immigrant women may not have understood what procedures they were undergoing due to language barriers or poor explanations.
The complaint also details a number of dangerous practices relating to the coronavirus pandemic, including allowing employees to work while they are symptomatic, refusing to test symptomatic detainees, transferring detained immigrants who have tested positive for the virus, neglecting medical complaints and under-reporting Covid-19 cases.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment, but has told other outlets it takes “all allegations seriously,” but “anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”
“Reports such as these point to the urgent need to overhaul our unaccountable detention system and its horrific misuse by the Trump Administration, to ensure that these abuses cannot ever again happen,” wrote Pelosi.
“Ms. Wooten’s whistleblowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years: gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions at Irwin,” Priyanka Bhatt, a staff attorney for Project South, one of the groups that filed the complaint on behalf of Wooten, told CBS.
ICE, founded in 2003, has drawn significant controversy in recent years for its handling of unauthorized immigrants arriving in the U.S. A 2019 report from The New York Times detailed “horrendous conditions” at a facility in Clint, Texas, including outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox among the hundreds of children and adults being held in cramped cells. Other reports of the conditions in which children were being held at the border led to a House Oversight subcommittee hearing in July of last year. Major coronavirus outbreaks at ICE facilities across the country over the past few months have caused additional concern.
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for an investigation into a Georgia ICE detention center where a whistleblower complaint from one of the facility’s nurses detailed health care abuses, including questionable hysterectomies and a refusal to test for and report coronavirus cases.”