A woman released Monday (September 21) by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is speaking out about the questionable gynecological surgery she says she received while in custody, the woman’s lawyer told Vice News.
The Monday release of Mileidy Cardentey Fernandez occurred the same day Vice News reported on the accounts of Cardentey and four other women describing their experiences at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. The five women claimed to have undergone gynecological operations they either didn’t seek or didn’t fully understand while in detention.
As Colorlines reported on September 15, nurse Dawn Wooten and several advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog, accusing Irwin County Detention of performing “questionable hysterectomies,” on unsuspecting detainees.
Cardentey’s lawyer, Alexis Ruiz, told Vice that her client, who had been held at the facility since February, is the second Irwin detainee to be released within three days, a move sparked by the firestorm that erupted following Wooten’s complaint.
According to Vice:
Pauline Binam, 30, the first woman to go public with claims about her experience in Irwin, was released from an ICE detention facility in Texas on Saturday.
Binam’s attorney, Van Huynh, has said Binam believed she was getting a relatively routine procedure known as a dilation and curettage, which involves dilating the cervix and scraping the uterine lining. During a follow-up appointment the doctor later told Binam he’d clipped and tied one of her Fallopian tubes, Huynh said. Binam [who is from Cameroon] hasn’t had a period since, according to Huynh.
While speaking to Vice over the phone on Friday, before her release from Irwin, Cardentey said she had a gynecological operation she didn’t fully understand back in August. Ruiz said that Cardentey must still report to ICE as part of her release, and the agency is working to return her to her native Cuba, although Cardentey wants to remain in the U.S.
An official from LaSalle Corrections, owner and operator of Irwin County Detention Center, told Vice that Wooten’s complaint is still under investigation. “We can assure you the allegations are being investigated by an independent office, and we are confident once the facts are made public our commitment to the highest quality care will be evident,” the spokesperson said.
ICE Acting Director Tony H. Pham released a statement on Monday obtained by Vice, saying the whistleblower’s allegations “raise some very serious concerns that deserve to be investigated quickly and thoroughly.”
Pham continued, “If there is any truth to these allegations, it is my commitment to make the corrections necessary to ensure we continue to prioritize the health, welfare and safety of ICE detainees.”