(Washington) The US Immigration Service announced, on Thursday, the termination of its contract with two prisons to detain illegal immigrants, after accusations of abuse of detainees, including gynecological operations that women underwent.
“We will not tolerate mistreatment of detained individuals or poor conditions of detention,” Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayuras said in a letter to Immigration Police Chief Tay Johnson.
He added that this decision is an “important first step” with the aim of achieving “permanent improvements in our immigration retention system.”
Seventeen sterile women
In one of the institutions involved, Irwin County Jail in Georgia, which is a private detention center, a gynecologist was charged in September 2020 with performing sterilization and other surgeries on inmates. Nurse Don Wooten raised the alarm by contacting local NGOs.
According to Atlanta-based Project South, at least 17 women, including many Mexican immigrants, have been sterilized – in some cases by complete hysterectomy – without their consent or without the necessary information.
The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Police opened an investigation, as did the Mexican government after identifying at least two of its citizens who were victims of these practices.
Another detention center, in North Dartmouth in Bristol County (Massachusetts, Northeast), was in sight of the authorities after an intervention that local police deemed violent against inmates who refused to be tested for Coronavirus in May 2020.
The powerful civil rights organization ACLU hailed the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement “demonstrating the Biden administration’s willingness to permanently cut off immigrant rights violations by previous governments.”
ACLU attorney Norine Shah said in a statement that Erwin Prison “is known for its inhuman and nightmarish (detention) conditions, including widespread medical neglect and appalling reports of forced sterilization.”
It also criticized the “anti-immigrant program” implemented by the mayor of Bristol County for “attacking detained immigrants and denying them adequate food and care.”