Since the beginning of our country, immigrants have risked everything to find safety and a better life for their families within our borders. Yesterday, however, a whistleblower came forward with allegations of violent abuse against immigrants at an ICE detention center in Georgia that only adds to the crimes against humanity that shame us all. Beyond refusing to test and treat patients for coronavirus, the complaint described a doctor who was performing hysterectomies on detained women, effectively sterilizing them, with little to no explanation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have already demanded an investigation.
“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” a detainee said.
Action #1 – Call your legislators and put them on notice.
Minimal script for BOTH senators/representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen./Rep. [___] to:
- call for an immediate on-the-ground investigation of ICE facilities by the Office of Inspector General
- call for an immediate closure of the Irwin Detention Center.
- Thank or ask for support of (Rep) H.R. 2415/(Sen) S.1243 – “Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2019.
Minimal script for ONLY representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to REJECT the request for extra money for US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) when the House votes on the continuing resolution next week. The Department of Homeland Security has the ability to move money around, so ALL the pieces of the anti-immigrant enforcement machine are linked.
Contacts – Program these into your phone!:
- Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
- or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
- Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
- and Senator Harris: email,DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Action #2 – Call for this woman! First sterilized against her will, now facing deportation…
Send a letter to ICE now in support of the emergency request to stop Pauline’s deportation here: http://bit.ly/freepauline.
Background on Irwin Detention Center
From: Eva Patterson, Equal Justice Society
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 5:08 PM
“My friends Bill Hing and Maria Blanco confirmed this horror to me this morning.
It is important to note that a Black woman stood up and told the truth. As Maria wrote “Black people and immigrants of color are not human in the eyes of those responsible for these atrocities.” After I told Maria that I was deeply proud that a Black woman stood up, Maria wrote, “It’s true solidarity that comes from shared historical experiences.” That made me think of the Tuskegee “experiments.” Fannie Lou Hamer was involuntarily sterilized.
We are now officially living in the analogue of Nazi Germany. Remember that the Nazis studied how Black Americans were treated and modeled much of their efforts on our example. This is not a drill.
Based on the account of a former nurse at the facility, Project South (along with other non-profit organizations) launched a formal complaint to the Office of the Inspector General. For context, Irwin Detention Center is operated by a for-profit provider, LaSalle Corrections, meaning they’re incentivized by maximizing profits rather than providing appropriate care. Language barriers made immigrant women all the more vulnerable to abuse, as some medical staff allegedly relied on unofficial forms of communication rather than use the official language line provided. These horrifying new allegations follow years of carefully documented medical neglect within immigration detention and a long history of forced and coerced sterilization of people of color.
The United States has a long history of Eugenics
“As horrific as forced sterilization in America was, nothing compared to Adolf Hitler’s eugenic experiments leading up to and during World War II. And Hitler didn’t come up with the concept of a superior Aryan race all on his own. In fact, he referred to American eugenics in his 1934 book, Mein Kampf.“
Eugenics was considered a serious science for most of American history and has been used to justify the systemic sterilization of Black, brown, and people with disabilities since our founding. Eugenic thinking is driven by strict hierarchies of race, class, sex, religion, and physical ability — manifesting as the basis of dangerous racist, sexist, and ableist policies.
In reality, the dark history of eugenics isn’t so distant. Here are a few examples from the last century:
- A 1909 California law permitted the sterilization of anyone committed to a state institution and disproportionately targeted Latinos.
- Between 1927 and the 1970s, up to 70,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized after the Supreme Court gave states the right to target “undesirable” members of their population, usually poor people of color.
- Involuntary sterilizations were performed legally against 25% of Indigenous women as a result of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970.
- A 2013 report found that almost 150 women were illegally subjected to sterilization in California prisons between 2006-2010. The procedures were often discussed with women during childbirth, or other medical procedures, when they were most vulnerable.
The history of eugenics is long and difficult to recount, meaning cases like these (and the many others we haven’t mentioned) often go unnoticed and unchallenged. To allow these practices to persist is to ignore a quiet form of ethnic cleansing within our borders — tell your member of Congress you won’t stand for it.
We’re standing with those fighting for the victims of the Irwin Detention Facility and calling for an end to the history of these abusive practices.