A year has passed since immigrant rights lawyers filed a federal complaint about human rights abuses, including invasive gynecological procedures performed on women in an immigration prison in Georgia without full consent, but survivors of these ill-treatment are still awaiting justice and reparation .

The federal complaint made international headlines after advocates filed it with the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, containing horrific reports of imprisoned immigrants and whistleblower nurse Dawn Wooten. Despite this, grossly inappropriate measures have been taken to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) accountable for these abuses.

While the Department of Homeland Security ordered the termination of the ICE contract at the Irwin County Detention Center in May 2021, the prison remains open. Worse, the immigrants previously incarcerated in Irwin have been moved to other deadly ICE prisons in Georgia despite requests from lawyers to release them. While House Resolution 1153 was passed in October 2020 condemning the invasive non-consensual trials and calling for full cooperation in the Irwin County Detention Center’s investigation, there were no hearings in Congress and no update of the status of the original complaint of the Office of Inspector General.

Survivors of the Irwin County Detention Center deserve justice in the form of the closure of the Irwin County Detention Center along with all ICE prisons, immediate accountability for violations committed in ICE custody, immigration assistance and redress.

Georgia is home to three ICE prisons, where eight immigrants have died in the past four years. There is documented abuse affecting thousands of imprisoned immigrants, from medical neglect to forced labor. These dire conditions can be attributed, at least in part, to a subculture of bigotry within the state that has created legal detention pipelines such as state anti-immigration laws and 287 (g) programs that direct immigrants into ICE prisons for minor violations, denying them opportunities and Opportunities.

Wendy Dowe is one of the survivors of this system and an invasive non-consensual gynecological procedure while incarcerated at the Irwin County Detention Center. Dowe, a black immigrant from Jamaica, lived in Georgia for more than a decade, fearful of too aggressive law enforcement attacks on immigrants. A law enforcement report in Gwinnett County, where Dowe lived, documented a pattern of racial profiling in which immigrants often reported being stopped for no probable cause or suspicion.

While the Department of Homeland Security ordered the termination of the ICE contract at the Irwin County Detention Center in May 2021, the prison remains open.

In addition to being subject to search warrants, Dowe was attacked by police dogs while police watched. “I kept telling the police to take the dogs off me, but they waited for no particular reason to be bitten on my legs and fingers,” Dowe recalls. This incident led to her arrest and transfer to ICE custody.

But nothing prepared them for the dire realities of the Irwin County Detention Center. The stress of being locked up in treacherous conditions and separated from their children resulted in blood pressure spikes and vision problems. One day Dowe fell while showering, hit his head and passed out. Although she was in terrible pain, she was not transferred to an off-site hospital because she was told that she had “no broken bones”. This lack of care is common at the Irwin County Detention Center.

But the worst was yet to come. During a gynecological appointment, Dowe was told that she had cysts in her stomach that needed treatment. One very early morning, weeks later, she was suddenly awakened and asked to get dressed and see a doctor. Dowe assumed the visit was about her high blood pressure, but instead she was taken to a hospital and said she would have an operation to remove cysts from her abdomen. No other explanation was given to her.

When Dowe woke up from the operation, she was back at the Irwin County Detention Center. “I had bandages on my stomach and pain in my sides and under my navel,” Dowe recalls. At Irwin, no one wanted to tell her what procedure she had undergone, and no one gave her medication for the excruciating pain, even as the wound became infected and yellow pus leaked. “To her, I was just another person with no documents, I was nobody,” she says. “I was scared of not coming out. I wrote my brother a will telling him what to do with my children because I had the feeling that I would not get out alive. “

Irwin County Detention Center survivors deserve justice in closing the Irwin County Detention Center along with all ICE prisons.

She was then pressured to have a hysterectomy, which she refused. She asked for a second opinion but was told ICE wouldn’t pay for it. Dowe bravely stood up for herself by calling several government hotlines to report the abuse she was subjected to, but was deported to Jamaica shortly afterwards.

But Dowe did not give up on her efforts. While in Jamaica, she had medical experts in the United States review her records showing overly invasive treatment and the removal of one of her fallopian tubes without her permission or consent. “They hurt me when they operated on me without my full knowledge and consent,” she said. “It’s my body, but I wasn’t in control.”

Dowe is one of at least 40 survivors from the Irwin County Detention Center who underwent invasive gynecological procedures without their full knowledge and consent. In a recent report, another survivor said that after she found out that her fallopian tube had been removed without her consent, she was extremely distressed and suffered periods of depression and anger because she knew she naturally had none Children could have more. Another survivor noted after her appointment at the gynecology department that she was experiencing “childbirth pain” and felt that her ovary was “rotting from the inside.”

The threat of state-sanctioned violence against the body of women, and especially against blacks and browns, is unfortunately not new in the Peach State. Georgia was the 32nd state to pass a eugenic sterilization law in 1937 and sterilize more than 3,000 people, the fifth highest in the country. Eugenics policies in the US legalized pseudoscientific practices used primarily by white elites to control blacks and / or indigenous peoples, immigrants, poor women, and people with disabilities who they believed were unsuitable or “moronic”.

This policy of white supremacy continues today in many different forms, including ICE practices and xenophobic anti-black legislation. Just like the Georgia State Board of Eugenics in the 1930s, the majority white male MPs in the current Georgia General Assembly often continue to make decisions that harm colored communities and women – from passing the Jim Crow Voter Suppression Act to draconian anti-abortion laws. Law and dozens of anti-immigrant laws.

The road to accountability and redress for these abuses promises to be long and arduous. “I speak out to make us women, mothers and daughters who have been molested by ICE aware so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” says Dowe. “I want to hold the US government, ICE and the Irwin staff and doctors accountable for what has happened to me and everyone else – physically, mentally and emotionally. I demand justice. “

You and other Irwin survivors are calling for the prison to be closed immediately as a first step. “Irwin is not a place to detain a person, regardless of charge or immigration status,” says Dowe.

Since the Office of Inspector General’s complaint was filed last year, a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the survivors at the Irwin County Detention Center in December 2020. A state investigation is pending and the prison remains open. Following a May 2021 order from the Department of Homeland Security to end ICE detention at the facility, all immigrants detained at Irwin were relocated to other dangerous and deadly ICE facilities in Georgia, including the Stewart Detention Center and Folkston ICE Processing Center Lawyers to release them.

While Irwin’s cancellation of the ICE contract should be celebrated, Dowe, other survivors of the Irwin County Detention Center, and everyone affected by ICE still deserve justice.

The federal government and the state of Georgia must end all ICE detention and detention pipelines; hold all parties accountable (including companies that benefit from private prisons and prisons); Assistance with immigration assistance to survivors; Irwin County Detention Center Completed Closure; and to make reparation to all survivors of the Irwin County Detention Center and other immigrant prisons exposed to abuse, as proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Justice is long overdue.

Author’s Note: In addition to being interviewed for this article, Wendy Dowe also contributed through her deep involvement in the collaborative design and writing of this article.

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