A class action petition and complaint filed last week alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and others in charge at the privately operated Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia knew as far back as 2018 that gynecologist Mahendra Amin was abusing detained women, and ICDC did nothing about it. The complaint alleges that officials instead retaliated against immigrants who spoke out and protested the abuse.
“Since at least 2018, women treated by Respondent Amin and their counsel have reported his abusive behavior to certain Respondents and their agents, including unnamed ICE agents and ICDC officers, both verbally and in writing,” the complaint states. “Despite these complaints, Respondents have continued a policy or custom of regularly sending women detained at ICDC to be treated by Respondent Amin.”
The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) said in a statement that the complaint has been updated to include over 40 women “revealing a relentless pattern of unnecessary and non-consensual medical procedures” at the hands of Amin. Fourteen were “subjected to, or ordered to be subjected to, non-consensual, medically unindicated, and/or invasive gynecological procedures by Mahendra Amin, with the knowledge or participation of other Respondents,” the complaint says.
“In many instances, the medically unindicated gynecological procedures Respondent Amin performed on Petitioners amounted to sexual assault,” the complaint continued. But when detained women attempted to complain about the abuse, as well as carry out protests, “Respondents retaliated against them in order to silence them.”
“When women detained at ICDC went on hunger strike, Respondents rationed or threatened to ration their access to water, took money out of their commissary accounts, and limited or cut off their access to phones, tablets, video calls and email,” the complaint said, stating that officials even stooped to delaying prescribed medications. “In addition to limiting phone access, Respondents systematically monitored outgoing phone calls, abruptly cutting the line when Petitioners and other detainees mentioned hunger strikes or medical treatment or spoke with reporters.”
Officials further used the ultimate threat against detained women: deportation. “Respondents have further retaliated against and attempted to silence Petitioners by deporting or attempting to deport them in retaliation for their speech or attempted speech about the abuses they have suffered at Respondents’ hands,” the complaint continues. In the case of Jaromy Jazmín Floriano Navarro and Jane Doe #31, both “were deported within a day after they spoke out or confirmed that they had spoken out about medical abuses at ICDC.”
This rush by ICE to quickly deport victims and witnesses was so aggressive that advocates rushed to court to successfully force the Trump administration to not take any further action against the women until President-elect Joe Biden is in office. However, a number of women speaking out about abuse at the hands of Amin continue to remain jailed at the LaSalle Corrections immigration camp, where they face added risks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Advocates are also calling for the return of those who have been deported for speaking out, as the evidence of neglect and violence continues to grow,” NIPNLG continued in a statement. Nearly a dozen immigrants abused by Amin have further called on the Georgia Medical Composite Board urging state officials to revoke Amin’s medical license. “The pain was excruciating,” one woman said in the complaint. “I have survived extreme sexual violence, and this felt like being raped again. I kept squirming up into the chair. I told him, ‘no,’ but he kept going.”
This is, as one Democratic legislator who toured the facility earlier this year said, “a horror show.” And we’re funding it with our tax dollars. “Advocates also urge the incoming Biden administration and Congress to correct the wrongs of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda by closing the Irwin County Detention Center,” NIPNLG continued, “and investigating all ICE officers and contractors who turned a blind eye against the abuse the women suffered under their supervision.”