September 18, 2020

Senators to DHS IG: Investigate Alleged Forced Hysterectomies at ICE Facility

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), along with 36 other senators, calling on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to expeditiously investigate a whistleblower complaint alleging forced hysterectomies and medical negligence at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts with private detention company, LaSalle Corrections, to operate ICDC.

“Forced sterilizations infringe on reproductive rights and autonomy,” the senators wrote. “To understand whether such violations may have been committed against immigrants in our federal government’s custody, the Inspector General’s Office should immediately investigate the reproductive health policies and practices at the ICDC and at other facilities, including but not limited to, all instances of forced, coerced, or medically unnecessary hysterectomies.”

In addition to Senators Warren, Feinstein, Leahy, Murray, Casey, and Booker, the letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). 

On September 15, Senator Warren called for congressional hearings and expressed outrage regarding this report. This letter is part of Senator Warren’s ongoing oversight of private for-profit detention companies, and efforts to protect the rights and wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers:

  • On May 28, 2020, Senator Warren joined a letter to the DHS OIG requesting an investigation into the conditions that led to the death of the first individual in immigration detention from COVID-19 at Otay Mesa.
  • On April 28, 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Udall in a letter to the DHS OIG requesting they open an investigation into the conditions at ICE detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • On April 8, 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Blumenthal in a letter to the DHS OIG calling for an investigation into the treatment of pregnant migrants in immigration detention facilities. 
  • On March 3, 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Mark Morgan, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), calling on CBP to strengthen its new Medical Directive, which mandates the agency's requirements for medical screening and delivery of medical care to migrants in CBP custody.
  • On January 16, 2020, Senator Warren, along with Senator Harris and Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), sent a letter to ICE and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) questioning their anti-corruption policies and practices after a series of high-profile officials responsible for oversight of the private prison and detention industry have left to join the biggest companies in the industry. 
  • On September 6, 2019, Senator Warren expressed serious concerns over DHS's announcement that migrant families currently detained at CBP holding centers would not be vaccinated for the flu ahead of the flu season. On December 16, 2019, she and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) followed up with another letter.