Congressman García Urges DHS Inspector General to Immediately Investigate Whistleblower Allegations Regarding Hysterectomies Being Performed on Immigrant Women in ICE Detention Center

September 16, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) joined a letter led by Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), and signed by a total of 173 Members of Congress, urging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to open an immediate investigation into new whistleblower allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on women detained at the privately-run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. The lawmakers demanded an urgent response as well as a briefing on the status of an investigation by next Friday, Sept. 25. 

“The reports of mass hysterectomies in ICE detention centers are horrifying and bare grim parallels to forced medical procedures on minorities in our nation’s past. The violation of human rights, human dignity, and basic health and safety protocols in detention centers is criminal. We demand an immediate investigation into these atrocious human rights violations,” said Congressman García.

The letter follows alarms raised by a whistleblower and numerous immigrants who shared their concerns about the high rates of hysterectomies being performed, calling the facility an “experimental concentration camp” and the doctor performing the procedures “the uterus collector.” One immigrant reported that she knew of five women who had hysterectomies within a three month period. The whistleblower complaint details that several women did not know why they even went to a doctor.

The lawmakers’ letter also notes the abhorrent similarities between the allegations from the Irwin County Detention center and the United States’ shameful history of sterilization. More than 30 states passed eugenic-sterilization laws that disproportionately targeted people of color and incarcerated individuals. By the end of 1963, more than 3,000 individuals had been sterilized in Georgia alone as the state was responsible for the fifth highest number of sterilizations. This cruel practice has unfortunately continued into more recent times for incarcerated individuals.