Whistleblower Revealed ‘Victims of Persecution’ Being Forcibly Sterilized at ICE Facility

Activists from Yakima Immigrant Response Network wave flowers in front of a barbed wire fence

‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center

The complaint was filed by advocacy groups Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, who reported "jarring medical neglect" going on within the ICE processing facility, including a refusal to test detainees for COVID-19 and an alarming number of sterilization surgeries.

Following some devastating revelations from a nurse-turned-whistleblower at a Georgia immigrant detention center (as shared with the Intercept earlier this week) about concerns over medical practices at the center during the global pandemic, the full complaint obtained by SheKnows provides a grim closer look into the practices putting immigrants detained in the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) - operated by private prison company LaSalle Corrections - at risk and allegedly irreparably harming their health and reproductive freedom.

'These immigrant women, I don't think they really, totally, all the way understand this is what's going to happen depending on who explains it to them, ' she is quoted saying.

Wooten says that numerous nurses tried to communicate with the women by "Googling Spanish" or by asking another detainee to translate, rather than the official language services they're supposed to use.

The complaint says Wooten was demoted after missing work with coronavirus symptoms, which she believes was retaliation for raising questions about addressing COVID-19.

The complaint said that the "rate at which the hysterectomies have occurred" at the centre was a "red flag" for Ms Wooten and other nurses.

Wooten - who is being represented in the matter by the Government Accountability Project - also confirmed that numerous detained women told her that they didn't understand why they were being forced to have the procedure.

She alleged about one doctor that "everybody he sees has a hysterectomy", and that he removed the wrong ovary from one young detainee.

Rights groups have filed a complaint against a migrant detention centre in the U.S., alleging medical neglect and a lack of Covid-19 safety measures. "That's his specialty, he's the uterus collector", Wooten said. She said nurses ignored detainees reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

"Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy - just about everybody", Wooten said in the complaint. When she countered one of the reasons given by noting that the justification of reducing her menstrual bleeding didn't fit with her medical history, a nurse "responded by getting angry and agitated, and began yelling at her", the complaint states.

Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that the U.S. needs to "atone" for human rights violations, in response to allegations of abuse against migrants from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whistleblower.

"We've questioned among ourselves like, 'Goodness, he's taking everybody's stuff out, '" Wooten said.

LaSalle Corrections has so far refused to comment on the allegations. "I know that's ugly...is he collecting these things or something?"

Beginning in 1932, what is now known as the infamous Tuskegee Study or Tuskegee Experiment was a "40-year experiment run by Public Health Service officials followed 600 rural black men in Alabama with syphilis over the course of their lives, refusing to tell patients their diagnosis, refusing to treat them for the debilitating disease, and actively denying some of them treatment", The Atlantic summarized. She was advised that they were cancerous, but her records indicate she was not given a biopsy to confirm the cancer, he said.

In addition to holding detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it also serves those arrested by the U.S. Marshals and the Irwin County Sheriff's Department. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results.

ICE responded to the allegations on Monday evening, suggesting in a statement that charges from anonymous patients cited in the complaint "should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve". There were also reported incidences of ICDC management "hiding information from employees and detained immigrants about who has tested positive for COVID-19".

Wooten said the facility declined to use two rapid-testing COVID-19 machines that ICE purchased for $14,000 each.

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