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DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility

DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility
© Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has opened an investigation into allegations of forced hysterectomies at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia. 

DHS confirmed the probe in a statement to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The department’s decision followed pressure from Democratic lawmakers for an investigation after a whistleblower complaint filed by a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center earlier this week detailed “jarring medical neglect” at the facility. 

Nurse Dawn Wooten’s complaint alleges migrants and nurses at the detention center reported “high rates of hysterectomies done to immigrant women,” and claims that the ICE center refused to test detained immigrants who had been exposed to the coronavirus or who were symptomatic for COVID-19. 

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila Jayapal10 Democrats join NAACP lawsuit against Trump The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan Gosar's siblings ratchet up criticism over Capitol riot MORE (D-Wash,) Judy ChuJudy May ChuBipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures Biden clean electricity standard faces high hurdles House Democrats introduce carbon pricing measure MORE (D-Calif.) and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenCapitol Police watchdog issues report slamming 'deficiencies' before riot Lofgren says she's been briefed on 'disturbing' police report on riot Pelosi downplays concerns from moderates about reviewing contested Iowa race MORE (D-Calif.) led 173 members of Congress in a letter calling on DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to open an immediate investigation into the allegations. 

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally Top Democrat calling for expansion of child care support When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? MORE (D-N.J.) also sent a letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations, and a number of other congressional Democrats pushed for an investigation. 

The whistleblower complaint also raised issues of “proper informed consent” regarding hysterectomies done to immigrant women. 

Spokespeople for DHS and the DHS inspector general were not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill about the investigation. 

ICE told the Journal that its data showed that only two immigrants at the center in Georgia had been referred for hysterectomies since 2018. 

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“The accusations will be fully investigated by an independent office, however, ICE vehemently disputes the implication that detainees are used for experimental medical procedures,” Ada Rivera, medical director of the ICE Health Service Corps, said in a statement to the newspaper. 

Georgia’s two GOP senators said they look forward to seeing the inspector general’s report. 

A spokeswoman for Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia's top election official looks to shake political drama Collins hits Warnock after All-Star Game pulled: 'Thanks for nothing' High anxiety over Trump in Georgia GOP MORE told The Hill that the senator “trusts the IG will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts to get to the bottom of this.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. David Perdue told the Journal “these claims are extremely disturbing,” adding that “they are currently being investigated by the Inspector General and the Senator awaits that process to officially play out.”