I thought I couldn’t be shocked by bad news in immigration any more. After nearly four years of this administration finding new ways to make the legal immigration system more difficult – 400 changes and counting – and implementing strategies designed for no reason other than to inflict pain and cruelty, I honestly thought we’d seen it all. We’ve seen children torn away from their parents at the border, we’ve seen kids in cages, we’ve seen a program designed to save medically fragile individuals nearly come to an end, and yet…I wasn’t prepared for the news coming out of Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) on Monday night.

If you haven’t heard, Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked at ICDC became a whistleblower and truth-teller. She was shocked by the lack of treatment and care for detainees during the pandemic. Her allegations went beyond a lack of testing and social distancing, though. She also noticed a shockingly high number of women having hysterectomies done at the facility. When she started asking questions, she was fired. For the more information about Ms. Wooten, what she saw, and calls for an investigation, I recommend the following:

If true, this is beyond shocking. Having children is a very personal decision and for many women, being a mother is at the very core of their identity. I cannot imagine the pain of hoping for a family only to have a doctor take it away for no good reason. The doctor involved has denied the allegations, but if he’s guilty…I hope he never practices medicine again (at the very least), though it’ll never make the victims whole.

We have a young female client detained at ICDC right now. After talking with her twice this week, I am grateful her interactions with the doctor were limited.

What can we do about such an unconscionable situation? I have two recommendations, courtesy of ASISTA.

  1. Sign the Families Belong Together Pledge to commit to the fight in order to liberate families and end these outrageous and systematic abuses.
  2. Call or email your Representatives and Senators now!
    • Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
    • Script: “My name is ________ and I am a constituent of your district. I demand that you take immediate action to investigate all allegations of abuse at  Irwin County Detention Center, including unnecessary hysterectomies performed on immigrant women as well as violations of COVID-19 guidelines.”

We believe every person deserves basic human rights and dignity. Immigrants being detained are lives worthy of love and protection. I hope you will join us not only in our outrage, but in being a voice for change.

– Tracie