November 19, 2020

Warren Joins Merkley, Blumenthal, Jayapal, Ocasio-Cortez to Demand Trump Administration Halt Deportations Of Victims Of Medical Malpractice By ICE Doctor

Lawmakers denounce coverup preventing women from providing crucial evidence in ongoing investigations

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), to demand that the Trump administration halt plans to deport women who came forward to report unnecessary and non-consensual medical procedures while detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia.

Warren, Merkley, Blumenthal, Jayapal, and Ocasio-Cortez were joined by 27 Senators and 73 Representatives, including Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Reports of medical malpractice at ICDC first surfaced in September, when a whistleblower sounded the alarm about Dr. Mahendra Amin, alleging unethical treatment, including non-consensual procedures like hysterectomies and sterilizations.

“In all, more than 43 women have reportedly alleged that they underwent nonconsensual and/or medically unnecessary gynecological procedures while detained at ICDC. The DHS Office of the Inspector General has reportedly opened an investigation into these allegations, and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have reportedly opened parallel criminal investigations. Additionally, an independent group of medical experts have preliminarily found that many of these procedures were unnecessary and performed without informed consent,” the lawmakers wrote. “Despite these ongoing investigations, at least six victims of the alleged nonconsensual, unnecessary, and potentially sterilizing gynecological procedures have reportedly been deported.”

“Deporting these witnesses—especially when none of them have received independent physical or mental health evaluations by medical experts—may amount to a de facto destruction of evidence, as doing so substantially impedes the ability of these women to testify in any potential criminal or civil action. The deportation of potential witnesses interferes with law enforcement’s ability to engage in meaningful review of alleged criminal acts. Because these women have provided or are willing to provide useful assistance in a criminal investigation, they may be eligible for U nonimmigrant status,” the lawmakers continued.

The letters were sent to the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of the Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tony H. Pham, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) Joseph V. Cuffari, Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray.

The lawmakers requested that the administration immediately stay the removal of all women who have reported or witnessed allegations of medical abuse suffered while detained in ICDC, immediately stay the removal of all women who have had any appointments with Dr. Amin, and create a clear and transparent process by which all women detained at ICDC who have reported or witnessed medical abuse can identify themselves as witnesses to federal investigators.

In addition, the letter urged the administration to publicly commit to interviewing all women who submit medical records or testimony that credibly alleges medical abuse, to provide certifications for each woman who has reported allegations of medical abuse, to grant parole to women who reported allegations and have been deported, and to release immediately every woman who has reported relevant allegations of medical abuse at ICDC.

The members of Congress were joined by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Kirsten Gilibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.), and U.S. Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-Va.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Jesus "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Al Green (D-Texas), Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.), Joseph P. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Daniel T. Kildee (D-Mich.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

This letter is part of Senator Warren’s ongoing oversight of immigration detention, and efforts to protect the rights and wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers:

  • On September 15, 2020 Senator Warren called for congressional hearings and expressed outrage regarding a whistleblower complaint alleging forced hysterectomies and medical negligence ICDC. On September 18, 2020, Senator Warren joined her colleagues in calling on the DHS IG to expeditiously investigate this report.

  • On May 28, 2020, Senator Warren joined a letter to the DHS IG 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 Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in a letter to the DHS IG 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 IG 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 Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Congresswomen Jayapal and Pressley, 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.