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ICE And The History Of Forced Sterilization In America

The Department of Homeland Security flag flies outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC.
The Department of Homeland Security flag flies outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC.

Last week, a nurse working at a detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Georgia made some startling allegations about the treatment of the women detained there.

“I had several detained women on numerous occasions that would come to me and say, ‘Ms. Wooten, I had a hysterectomy. Why?’ I had no answer as to why they had those procedures, and one lady walked up to me here and she said, ‘What is he? Is he the uterus collector? Does he collect uteruses?’ And I asked her, what does she mean? And she says, ‘Everybody that I talk to has had a hysterectomy,'” said Dawn Wooten, in a whistleblower complaint filed against the agency last Monday.

The allegations weren’t only about  medical abuse, but also how the facility failed to take the proper precautions against the spread of coronavirus among detainees.

ICE has announced it’s taking the whistleblower complaint seriously.

The agency said in a statement:

The recent allegations by the independent contracted employee raise some very serious concerns that deserve to be investigated quickly and thoroughly. ICE welcomes the efforts of both the Office of Inspector General as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s parallel review. As a former prosecutor, individuals found to have violated our policies and procedures should be held accountable. 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.

There’s been a lot of focus on this specific complaint, but immigrant rights advocates say this just a small piece of a larger problem.

What’s going on at ICE? And how does this fit into the broader history of forced sterilization in America?

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