The federal government has deported at least six women who allege they were operated on without consent and is in the process of deporting at least seven more, according to The Associated Press.
Lawyers for the women say Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported six women who said Mahendra Amin gave them medically unnecessary, nonconsensual procedures that may have sterilized them. The attorneys added that at least seven more women, currently detained at the Irwin County Detention Center, are also at risk of deportation.
They said one of the women was told by ICE officials a hold on her deportation had been removed within hours of her speaking to investigators, while another was told to sign deportation papers after personnel took her to an airport in Georgia. The woman was returned to the facility after her lawyers filed a federal lawsuit.
The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the allegations, while Amin no longer treats women at the facility. His attorney, Scott Grubman, has denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client.
Lawyers for the women allege the agency is deliberately sabotaging the case by deporting witnesses and creating a significant logistical obstacle to their testimony.
“ICE is destroying the evidence needed for this investigation,” Columbia University law professor Elora Mukherjee, who is assisting several of the plaintiffs, told the AP.
For example, Mbeti Ndonga, who was given a dilation and curettage procedure and a laparoscopy, was told she would never be able to have children after the procedures. Shortly after being interviewed by investigators, her attorneys said ICE told her she could be deported to Kenya at any time after her deportation hold was lifted.
“Mbeti’s fear in answering the investigators’ questions was that it would make her immigration case worse,” Mukherjee said. “And within hours of the interview, her worst fears were realized.”
ICE claimed the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, which is conducting its own probe, was notified of any planned deportations of Amin’s accusers.
“Any implication that ICE is attempting to impede the investigation by conducting removals of those being interviewed is completely false,” the agency said in a statement, according to the AP.
The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.