FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 13, 2020
Government Accountability Project and Project South Condemn Deportation of ICE Medical Abuse Survivors
WASHINGTON — Following our client Dawn Wooten’s whistleblower disclosure of medical mistreatment in ICE detention, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has responded by deporting survivors instead of taking meaningful action. Six formerly detained women have been removed from the country, with at least seven others receiving word that their fate could be the same, as reported by the Associated Press. These detained immigrants serve as critical witnesses within an investigation, and deporting them stands in the way of pursuing justice.
In September, our client and Irwin County Detention Center nurse Ms. Wooten sounded the alarm on a wide array of mistreatment at the ICE facility, ranging from ignoring COVID-19 prevention protocols to performing invasive gynecological procedures on detained immigrants with dubious consent. The disclosure sparked national attention, prompting a group of over 170 members of Congress to demand an investigation, with one currently being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG). Following Ms. Wooten’s claim, 57 survivors of unwanted medical procedures came forward to support her statement, as well as an independent panel of medical professionals finding “a disturbing pattern of aggressive treatment” by the doctor in question, validating Ms. Wooten’s disclosures.
Dana Gold, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel and lawyer for Ms. Wooten, commented:
“By deporting these women, the government is risking — indeed facilitating — the loss of critical witnesses if law enforcement is unable to reach them in a different country. Like Ms. Wooten, they are now suffering retaliation for speaking up about unconscionable abuses suffered by immigrants in ICE detention in a seeming effort to both punish and hide evidence of medical misconduct. We condemn these actions and demand that DHS stop all further deportations of those impacted by this investigation.”
Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South Legal and Advocacy Director and lawyer for Ms. Wooten, commented:
“It is shameful for ICE to actively try to erase the evidence of human rights violations and get rid of the survivors and witnesses, instead of aiding in the investigation. Congress must investigate and immediately put an end to this injustice.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x156
Contact: Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South Legal and Advocacy Director
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 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.