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165 congressional Democrats demand 'immediate investigation' into whistleblower claim that ICE is sterilizing immigrant women without consent

GettyImages 1227857623
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/07/30: A participant holding a sign at the entrance of the Manhattan Bridge facing the rush hour traffic. Members of the activist group Rise and Resist gathered at the plaza by the Manhattan side entrance to the Manhattan Bridge during rush hour holding signs and banners protesting the incarceration of immigrants by CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
  • A letter signed by 165 congressional Democrats demands that the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general investigate reports that women are receiving hysterectomies without consent at an ICE detention facility.
  • “We are horrified to see reports of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility, without their full, informed consent,” the lawmakers state.
  • The letter comes after a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia alleged that an unusual number of women were being sterilized.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Over 160 congressional Democrats, including the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, are demanding an "immediate investigation" into a whistleblower complaint alleging mass sterilization of women held at an immigration detention facility in Georgia.

On Monday, the immigrant advocacy group Project South released testimony from a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center, who alleged that an unusual number of women were being given hysterectomies, some without their knowledge.

"I've had several inmates tell me that they've been to see the doctor and they've had hysterectomies and they don't know why they went or why they're going," nurse Dawn Wooten said.

In a Sept. 15 letter to the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, lawmakers, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, said the testimony hearkens back "to a dark time in US history," when racism and eugenics were state policy.

"We are horrified to see reports of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility, without their full, informed consent," the lawmakers state, noting one detained immigrant's description of the privately run facility as an "experimental concentration camp."

"This shameful history of sterilization in the United States, in particular sterilization of people of color and incarcerated people, must never be repeated," the letter states. "Yet, the similarities to the accounts of immigrant women and nurses in the Irwin County Detention Center today are eerily similar."

The letter requests a response and congressional briefing from DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari on the status of that investigation by no later than Sept. 25.

The correspondence comes after a congressional source, asked about the whistleblower's allegations, told Business Insider that the House subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, chaired by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, "was engaging in oversight over DHS to dig into this complaint."

ICE, in a statement attributed to its medical director, Dr. Ada Rivera, said the accusations "will be fully investigated by an independent officer." However, it added, "ICE vehemently disputes the implication that detainees are used for experimental medical procedures."

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