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OIG Report Defers Claims That ICE Detainees in Georgia Had Forced Hysterectomies

by Ashleigh N. Dye

Did 19 women detained for federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a Georgia jail have forced hysterectomies? [See: PLN, Dec. 2020, p.60.]

A whistleblower complaint said so. That led to a January 2022 report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at ICE’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While addressing problems with medical care and COVID-19 protocols at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC), though, OIG deferred findings on the alleged gynecological procedures.

Meanwhile, ICE had moved all its detainees out of the jail by September 2021, nearly a year after former DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told Congress he could find “only” five women who allegedly suffered the gynecological procedure without consent.

If the allegations prove true against Dr. Mahendra Amin, ICDC’s contracted gynecologist, the motive may have been financial. Amin, who owns the Irwin County Hospital where the illegal procedures were allegedly performed, was hit with a $520,000 fine in 2015 for alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

But how did he do it, if he did? Detainees couldn’t get to the hospital at all without authorization from ICE or LaSalle Corrections, the Louisiana firm with a contract to hold detainees at the jail. That answer may never come to light; the administration of former Pres. Donald J. Trump (R) moved aggressively to deport the detainees making the allegations, sending six out of the country by September 2020, when seven more expected imminent deportation.

A lawsuit pending in federal court for the Middle District of Georgia was stayed for OIG to conduct its inquiry. After the watchdog issued its initial report, the stay was lifted in February 2022 to allow Plaintiffs to amend their complaint; however, discovery remained stayed. See: Oldaker v. Johnson, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17581 (M.D. Ga.).

The case is still pending, with several “Doe” plaintiffs in addition to those named: Yanira Oldaker, Keynin Reyes Ramirez, Ana Adan Cagjial, Mbeti Ndonga, Jaromy Floriano Navarro, Lourdes Terrazas Silas, Luz Walker and Tatyana Solodkova. They are represented by Athens attorneys Clare R. Norins, Jason A. Cade and Kristen E. Shepherd; New York attorney Elora Mukherjee; Fort Worth attorney Fatma Marouf; Cambridge attorneys Sabrineh Ardalan and Sameer Ahmed; Boston attorney Sarah Sherman-Stokes; Washington, DC attorneys Sirine Shebaya, Amber Qureshi, Joseph Meyers and Matthew Vogel; and Atlanta attorneys Azadeh N. Shahshahani, David N. Dreyer, Michael T. Sterling and Priyanka Bhatt. See: Oldaker v. Giles, USDC (M.D. Ga.), Case No. 7:20-cv-00224. 

Additional sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBC News, Prism Reports, Roll Call

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