The Significance of the Allegations Towards I.C.E.

Michael Bilodeau, Writer

In Georgia this past month, a whistleblower at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) detention center came forward with allegations of abuse by doctors at the center.  Dawn Wooten, a nurse, identified herself as the whistleblower who worked with the Government Accountability Project to detail the abuses, which include an oddly high number of hysterectomies being performed at the facility. Hysterectomies are procedures that involve the complete removal of the uterus and/or other reproductive organs. Wooten explained that many of the hysterectomies were questionable or flat out unnecessary.

Of the women who were operated on, many of them came forward with complaints about how they had been treated.  They were all treated by a doctor by the name of Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist at the detention center.  Doctors who reviewed the complaints stated that Dr. Amin often performed avoidable surgeries on detainees without their complete understanding.   This displays a clear violation of human rights, as the women in these detention centers are practically being operated on without fully understanding what they are consenting to. After all, they are detainees, and not consenting to the surgeries could result in deportation.

Many may consider this a small issue as it is only known to be happening at one detention center, but these allegations accompanied by the many other detailed cases of abuse throughout the institution of I.C.E. reinforce the motives behind those calling for its abolition. The movement to abolish I.C.E. has been around for a while now but has picked up steam as the wrongdoings of the institution have been more prominent these past few years. The family separations at the border are a clear example of I.C.E.’s lack of concern for the rights of immigrants. The mere existence of cages at the border, many of which are filled with children, is a disturbing thought. Not to mention the often violent, and intrusive ways I.C.E. finds its detainees in the U.S., despite their commitment to prosecuting only immigrants who commit crimes.  These human rights violations along with the allegations brought on by Wooten show not only a clear need for something to change but also call into question why an institution like I.C.E. even exists. 

The women who were wronged by the doctors in this detention center only represent a small minority of people whose lives have been harmed forever by the injustices caused by I.C.E. Their mistreatment show a need to look at the United States’ contradictions when it comes to immigration.  For a country that appears to pride itself on its ability to offer a better life to immigrants, it is hypocritical to see how often it seeks out to criminalize and mistreat them.