Sep 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Dems demand probe into ICE after nurse's allegations of mistreatment

An exterior view of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency headquarters
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Top House Democrats including Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) requested Tuesday an emergency investigation into allegations of mistreatment at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.

Why it matters: The investigation comes after a nurse at the ICE Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia alleged in a whistleblower complaint filed Monday there had been "jarring medical neglect" and "red flags regarding the rate at which hysterectomies are performed on immigrant women" by a doctor at the facility.

What they're saying: "Unfortunately, this is not the first time that serious concerns have been raised about this facility," the Democrats said in a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari.

  • "As you know, our Committee staff conducted a site visit at this facility in September 2019, during which they observed alarmingly urgent health and safety issues. In fact, Committee staff were so disturbed that they raised concerns directly with the ICDC warden during the visit."

The nurse stated the doctor has "even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady."

  • “I’ve had several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going.”
  • “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.”
  • “Ms. Wooten stated that the sick call nurse tries to communicate with the detained immigrants and speak Spanish to detained immigrants by simply googling Spanish or by asking another detained immigrant to help interpret rather than using the language line as medical staff are supposed to.”

Worth noting: ICE has previously been sued for failing to provide detainees with basic health care in August 2019.

  • The suit, filed against ICE and Trump administration officials in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California, alleged that the defendants are "fully aware of the deplorable conditions" inside the facilities, but they're "deliberately indifferent" to a series of systemic failures inside the centers.
  • ICE did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.

Read the letter, via DocumentCloud:

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