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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 JayapalRep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: Trump admin makes changes to speed vaccinations | CDC to order negative tests for international travelers | More lawmakers test positive after Capitol siege Democrats to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor MORE (D-Wash,) Judy ChuJudy May ChuWhy Biden's diversity efforts fall flat Asian lawmakers set sights on Biden's Labor secretary pick House Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department MORE (D-Calif.) and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Capitol Police chief announces resignation after pro-Trump riots 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 BookerNCAA tables name, image and likeness vote after DOJ warns of potential antitrust violations Warren and other senators seek investigation into Trump administration resuming federal executions Cory Booker says he has no plans to propose to Rosario Dawson this Christmas 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 LoefflerNikki Haley unveils PAC ahead of possible 2024 White House bid McConnell has said he thinks Trump committed impeachable offenses: report Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win 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.”