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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Statement on Whistleblower Complaint of Abuse in ICE Detention Centers, Including Hysterectomies

Sep 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) released the following statement after a nurse employed at an ICE detention center filed a whistleblower complaint to the DHS Inspector General documenting ‘jarring medical neglect’—including allegations of hysterectomies being performed on immigrant woman without informed consent of this life-altering surgery:

“If true, this grotesque behavior harkens back to some of the darkest chapters in our country’s history. Coerced sterilizations have been used by the U.S. government before to control ‘undesirable’ populations—immigrants, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, people with disabilities, the poor, and many more—and these atrocities must not happen again. These allegations are also part of a larger pattern of reproductive injustices conducted by ICE officials, such as forcing women to give birth standing up, shackling pregnant women, and neglecting prenatal care.

“The whistleblower’s courageous choice to speak up is honorable, and we hope more people will say something if they’ve seen something wrong. These horrors must not remain hidden. The American people need to know exactly why and under what conditions that vulnerable women in ICE custody underwent hysterectomies. Were Trump administration officials aware of any coerced procedures, and if so, what actions did they take, if any, to stop this abuse? Congress is already examining this disturbing complaint, and the DHS Inspector General must immediately investigate these serious allegations by conducting thorough on-the-ground inspections and not relying on statements from ICE agents and private contractors.

“The whistleblower also reported unacceptable COVID-19 conditions, including a refusal to test detained immigrants for the coronavirus and a disregard for CDC public health guidelines. The Hispanic Caucus has been sounding the alarm for months on the blatant lack of regard for human life by ICE officials and has led two congressional delegations to detention centers during the pandemic. This fiscal year, 19 people detained in ICE custody have died, several from COVID-19. As many people as possible should be swiftly and safely released from detention to prevent anymore massive outbreaks and an even greater loss of life.”

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.