Urgent: Demand Justice for Abuses in ICE Detention Facilities
Content warning: Disturbing descriptions of violence against immigrants.
On September 15, allegations of violent abuse against immigrants at an ICE detention center in Georgia emerged, providing information that would have gone unpunished had a brave whistleblower not come forward. The details of the “jarring medical neglect” within Irwin are horrifying: beyond refusing to test and treat patients for coronavirus, the complaint details stories of a doctor performing hysterectomies on detained women, effectively sterilizing them, with little to no explanation.
If you’re as outraged as we are, here are a few steps you can take to demand justice:
The first — and most important — ask is to call your members of Congress and demand three things that will make a significant impact. Click here to make your calls and see below for our three demands:
- Demand your senators and representative publicly call for an immediate on-the-ground investigation by the Office of Inspector General. They need to be loud and unapologetic since the OIG has said ICE detention facilities are too unsafe for them to enter.
- Demand your senators and representative publicly call for the immediate closure of the Irwin Detention Center. Period.
- Tell your representative that when the House votes on the continuing resolution next week, they must REJECT the request for extra money for US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Remember: the Department of Homeland Security still has the ability to move money around, so ALL the pieces of the anti-immigrant enforcement machine are linked.
Next, tweet these demands at your members of Congress. Click here for tweet templates to tweet at your representative and senators directly.
Finally, consider making a donation to the organizations on the ground providing direct relief to immigrants and families who’ve been impacted by ICE and CBP. Project South and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights are working to represent those who have been harmed and end the system of detention that enables these atrocities. If you’re able, donate to support their work directly using the links above, and keep reading for more context about the long history of these practices.
Background on Irwin Detention Center
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.
Long History of Eugenics
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.
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. Join us by taking action to demand justice right now.