Progressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses'

Progressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses'
© Greg Nash

The four progressive congresswomen known as "the squad" on Friday urged the United Nations to investigate whether alleged forced medical procedures on migrant women amounted to human rights abuses committed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Democratic Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries MORE (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality MORE (N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE (Minn.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyIt's past time we elect a Black woman governor House Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias MORE (Mass.) led a letter urging organizations and individuals affiliated with the U.N., including U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to launch investigations into the allegations that a number of women detained at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracted center in Georgia underwent unnecessary hysterectomies and other procedures.

"These allegations illustrate a clear pattern of alleged human rights violations by DHS. This pattern of behavior is perpetuated and encouraged by the consistent and unforgivable failure of the United States government and its institutions to take these allegations seriously by investigating them in a transparent, thorough, and impartial manner," they wrote in the letter.


"While we pledge to do all that we can to investigate any and all allegations of human rights abuses domestically, the variety of rights issues in question, the sheer number of complaints, and the serious nature of the allegations necessitates an international response," they wrote.

A whistleblower complaint filed by a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., reported "jarring medical neglect" and alleged "high rates of hysterectomies done to immigrant women."

DHS opened an investigation into the allegations last month.

Friday's letter from the progressive lawmakers comes after the House passed a resolution earlier this month to formally condemn the alleged forced medical procedures on the migrant women.

The resolution passed largely along party lines, with Republicans arguing that it was premature to consider a resolution before the DHS investigation is completed.


The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that at least 19 women at the Georgia detention facility are alleging that a doctor pressured them to undergo "overly aggressive" or "medically unnecessary" surgery without their consent.

All of the women were patients of Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist for the detention center. The women were given birth control and underwent procedures without their consent to remove reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes, according to the report.

The New York Times also reported in late September that Amin routinely overrated the risks involved with cysts or masses and recommended surgery that did not appear to be necessary.

Four other Democrats also signed onto the letter Friday: Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: The pre-Trump 'normal' is gone for good Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (Wis.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarAbbott signs bill making concealed carry without permits legal in Texas Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Gun violence: Save the thoughts and prayers, it's time for Senate action MORE (Texas), Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Face mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Native Americans urge Deb Haaland to help tackle pollution in communities of color MORE (Calif.) and Mary Gay ScanlonMary Gay ScanlonHouse unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe Democrats introduce bill seeking to protect voting rights of people in subsidized housing MORE (Pa.).