House

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

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 Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (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 Pocan (Wis.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.) and Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.).

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