Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on September 26, 2020, at 3:46 p.m. ET
Members of Congress who visited immigrants detained by federal authorities at a facility that has come under fire following allegations of unwanted gynecological procedures heard firsthand accounts on Saturday from women who said they were coerced or had unwanted medical treatment.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and House Judiciary Committee were among those who toured and spoke with immigrants detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, including a woman who asked them to read her medical file and explain what she had been injected with.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, said that during the visit she spoke with women, four of which said they had unwanted procedures they felt they were forced to undergo, otherwise it would result in them receiving a contraceptive injection without being told of the side effects. On a call with reporters, Jayapal said she has now spoken to eight women who say they had been subjected to forced unnecessary procedures — some of which have resulted in full or partial sterilization — or procedures without their consent or full knowledge.
“This is clearly an epidemic within Irwin County Detention Center we believe is tied to the for-profit nature of these procedures,” Jayapal said. “One woman said she was treated like an animal, all described being shackled and coming out bleeding.”
Rep. Nanette Barragán, also a Democrat from California, said the women they met were crying and asked for help. Some of them said women would return to the ICE detention center after undergoing a gynecological procedure in pain, crying, and would later develop an infection.
One woman with an infection in her belly button that had turned navy blue was released from Irwin County Detention Center days before the congressional delegation arrived, which Barragán believes ICE did to avoid scrutiny.
Another woman asked Barragán to read her medical files and explain what the injection she received was and what it was for. Barragán said the woman bled for 42 days afterward and experienced pain from the injection she received after refusing to undergo a dilation and curettage procedure with Amin.
Barragán said she also spoke with a woman who said she received a Pap smear with dirty equipment and later developed an infection. Many of the women were afraid of speaking out, fearing retaliation.
“They were called criminals. They were calling them cockroaches and mistreated,” Barragán said. “We’re treating them like animals. You can see the impact on their health and mental health.”
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