Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are attempting to silence migrant women who alleged abuse by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center, according to lawyers who spoke to The Associated Press.
The Trump administration has already deported six of Dr. Mahendra Amin’s former patients, and now lawyers say at least seven other women at the Irwin County Detention Center have received word that they will soon be deported too. All of the women have complained that Amin operated on them without their consent or performed “procedures that were medically unnecessary and potentially endangered their ability to have children,” The Associated Press reports.
Reports the AP:
They allege Amin performed operations that caused or worsened their pain without explaining what he was doing or giving them an alternative. Their stories fit a broader pattern of allegations made by detained women against Amin, some of them revealed in interviews with attorneys and medical records reviewed by The Associated Press. But there hasn’t been evidence to support an initial claim that he performed a large number of hysterectomies.
As Colorlines reported in September, several advocacy groups and a nurse working for ICE filed a complaint with the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog accusing Irwin County Detention of allowing “questionable hysterectomies,” to be performed on unsuspecting detainees. The Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general also is investigating, according to the AP.
Advocates are not just calling for a federal investigation into Dr. Amin, but also into Irwin County Detention and ICE, AP reports. “While people who have been deported might still be able to serve as witnesses in a criminal or civil case, many end up in unstable countries or situations where it becomes difficult to maintain contact with them,” according to the AP.
Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia University law professor who is working with several of the women, told the AP that ICE is intentionally hampering this investigation. “ICE is destroying the evidence needed for this investigation,” she said.
Reports the AP:
ICE said it had notified the Homeland Security inspector general “about any planned transfers or removals of Irwin detainees who were former patients of Dr. Amin.”
“Any implication that ICE is attempting to impede the investigation by conducting removals of those being interviewed is completely false,” the agency said in a statement.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
According to ICE policy, the agency must “exercise all appropriate discretion on a case-by-case basis” regarding the deportation of “victims of crime, witnesses to crime, and individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints,” according to the AP.
ICE maintained in a statement to the AP that once a detained migrant has exhausted all appeals, “they remain subject to a final order of removal … and that order must be carried out.”