Group of Organizations Suing ICE After Failure to Respond to Whistleblower Complaint

This article features our client Dawn Wooten and was originally published here.

Three organizations are suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their lack of response to the whistleblower complaint that alleged immigrant women were forced to undergo “gynecological procedures that could result in sterilization or diminished,” according to an October 29 press release from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG). 

The July 14 whistleblower complaint was brought by Dawn Wooten, a nurse at ICE’s Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. Wooten provided Project South, one of the organizations that filed the complaint, with “horrific accounts of invasive gynecological procedures performed without consent on women detained at ICDC,” according to the press release. The whistleblower complaint “also recounted numerous other non-consensual medical procedures and egregious neglect, as well as procedures being performed without access to a translator to obtain the patient’s consent.” 

In suing ICE, NIPNLG, along with Project South and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), “seek to compel ICE to answer for its actions.” The press release points to calls for ICE to investigate the claims, including a September 15 letter from 173 members of Congress asking ICE to conduct an investigation into the whistleblower’s allegations.

On September 16, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) announced new information that at least 17 women who were detained in the Georgia detention center were “subjected to forced, invasive procedures by a gynecologist connected with the private, for-profit detention center.” Additionally, an October 22 article from the Los Angeles Times cites new reports that state at least 19 women at the detention center were forced to undergo “‘overly aggressive’ or ‘medically unnecessary’ surgery without their consent, including procedures that affect their ability to have children.” 

Each of the three organizations also filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests asking ICE to release information and records about the issues detailed in the complaint. However, the groups state that “ICE has failed to respond to either request,” according to the press release.