5 Victims Of ICE's Gynecological Procedures Come Forward. These Are Their Stories.
Photo by Mario Tama via AmericanProgress.org: An immigrant woman, recently released after spending six months in an ICE detention facility, clutches her ICE identification bracelet in her hotel room in Los Angeles
Five women who have been subjected to ICE's nonconsensual surgeries have come forward. These are their stories...
Pauline Binam, was the first to come forward and report a nonconsensual procedure. Two days later, she was set to be deported.
Pauline, who has lived in the U.S. since she was a toddler, had been in ICE custody for over two years when she started having irregular periods. She believed the long incarceration was taking a toll on her body.
She went in for what she was told was a minor procedure. When she came out, she had a surgical scar. Her fallopian tube had been clipped. Pauline hasn't had her period since and will likely have difficulty conceiving. She is only 30 years old.
ICE performing forced hysterectomies barely made a blip on the timeline and is already out of the news cycle. But I won't forget, and neither should you.— Sara Ackerman ???????? (@saramikaila) September 22, 2020
Mileidy Fernandez also suffered from irregular bleeding. A doctor told her that she had ovarian cysts that could be dissolved with pills. She never received the medication.
By the time medical staff addressed her concerns, they said the cysts had grown and she needed surgery. They told her she would have one incision; she woke up with three. She never signed a consent form.
Despite requesting her full medical records multiple times, Mileidy still hasn't received them. VICE News reviewed her partial records and found no mention of the surgery, which Mileidy's hospital bracelet shows happened on August 14, 2020.
ICE is still working to deport her back to Cuba.
EXCLUSIVE: Multiple women detained by ICE are speaking out after being forcibly sterilized through medically unnecessary hysterectomies at a private Georgia detention facility (warning: distressing themes) #ICEDetaineesSpeak pic.twitter.com/5IpQiAmvxE— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 18, 2020
VICE also interviewed a woman identified only as A who requested her name be withheld for fear of retaliation. A says she was also told she had cysts on her ovaries, but only found out the morning of the procedure that she would be having surgery.
She woke up to find her belly button deformed and several surgical scars along her bikini line and pelvis. Doctors unaffiliated with ICE say the procedure listed on A's medical records would not account for these wounds.
After surgery, A was in pain and bleeding excessively for days, needing to change her pad about every half-hour. She wasn't given antibiotics until weeks later.
Another woman, Maria, who was deported to El Salvador, underwent three surgeries while in ICE custody, reports VICE. Her lawyer Benjamin Osorio, says none of the procedures were fully explained to her.
After one surgery, Maria woke up with 16 stitches in her abdomen. Another detainee told her that her uterus had been removed.
Maria has been unable to get her medical records to confirm what actually happened.
Osorio represents another woman who was given hysterectomy after a cancer diagnosis. He says she wasn’t presented with alternative treatments. "It was like, 'This is what we’re doing, you don’t have a choice.'"
Dr. Mahendra Amin, the man responsible for most the nonconsensual procedures, is not a board certified OB-GYN.
Picture this:— ClaudiaTX???????????? (@claudia79912) September 20, 2020
1. ICE detention center is 'for-profit'
2. Dr. w/o certification & prev lawsuits is hired
3. Performs hysterectomies on 'immigrants'
4. No check & balance system
ICE doctor performing hysterectomies is not board certified - Business Insider https://t.co/dDSGbOZW36
Amin obtained his medical degree in India and completed a residency at University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey.
Amin maintains he has only done "one or two hysterectomies" in the years he has worked with ICE.
We’ve arrived. We are here to investigate reports of women being subjected to forced medical procedures including hysterectomies at this ICE Detention facility in Georgia. pic.twitter.com/xB66qAFnFP— Rep. Sylvia Garcia (@RepSylviaGarcia) September 26, 2020
Thanks to public outcry, more than 170 members of Congress have called for an investigation, and the chairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform have requested an emergency investigation into the whistleblower complaint.
A spokesperson for LaSalle Corrections, the company that runs the for-profit detention centers, said the allegations are "malicious" lies to "advance a purely political agenda."
ICE's Acting Director, Tony Pham, says he is committed to the "health, welfare, and safety of ICE detainees."
Through the intervention of Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, TX, and humanitarian groups, both Pauline Binam and Mileidy Fernandez have been released.
1/2 Pauline Binam, the ICE detainee who had unwarranted medical procedures done in a DHS Georgia facility, has been granted a humanitarian release. pic.twitter.com/YJNeNIPShb— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) September 19, 2020
Maria was deported to El Salvador. The other women remain in custody.
"We are not an experiment,” Mileidy told VICE News. “We are women that have human rights.”