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November 25, 2020

Business Insider: DOJ has agreed to temporarily halt deportations for some migrant detainees and whistleblowers who alleged medical and sexual abuse at GA detention center


The US Justice Department agreed on Tuesday to temporarily suspend the deportations of detained immigrant women who have alleged abuse at an immigration detention facility in rural Georgia, according to new court filings. The new motion filed by attorneys from the US Attorney’s Office is now sealed by the US District Court Middle District of Georgia but was previously reported on by VICE News.

The motion of consent, filed today in the Middle District of Georgia and that still needs federal approval, protects at least four women from deportation until January 21, or the start of the Biden-Harris administration. The Biden administration has proposed a selective moratorium on deportations in the first months of his new administration.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s decision could dent the Trump administration’s legal pursuits in the case and signal a broader victory for the whistleblowers and detainees at the privately-owned Irwin County Detention Center. The motion concerns four of the women whose testimonies alleging forced hysterectomies or other medical abuse at the hands of Dr. Mahendra Amin have ignited an investigation into the facility.

Prior to Tuesday’s motion of consent, the DHS had initiated deportation proceedings against several of the women, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The women detained at Irwin have organized and exposed medical atrocities and retaliation. ICE tried to silence them by deporting them, thinking that they and their contractors could act with impunity. But now the women at Irwin have some limited protection to speak freely about the abuses they have endured,” Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia University law professor representing several of the women, told Business Insider.

“We hope our clients and other individuals detained at Irwin have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the federal investigations,” Mukherjee said.

In a whistleblower report filed in September through the organization Project South, former Irwin nurse Dawn Wooten backed up the claims made by 57 current and former female detainees in Irwin. Wooten claimed that the women were subjected to non-consensual hysterectomies and other medical procedures that they did not consent to. Although not originally named, lawyers representing the women named in the whistleblower complaint all alleged that Dr. Amin was responsible for the abuse.


ICE has previously denied attempting to deport the petitioners and told VICE on Tuesday that the agency “complies with all binding court orders. In late September, facing mounting public pressure, an ICE official confirmed to Insider that the agency is no longer referring detainees to Dr. Amin.

Around that time, a team of Democratic lawmakers including Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Nannette Barragan led a delegation on a tour of the ICDC, where they spoke with 12 women who have alleged medical and sexual abuse. Shortly after, the House Immigration Subcommittee announced an investigation into the facility and its medical care for detainees.

Additionally, a group of more than 100 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter in November urging the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to call for a halt to the deportations of the detainees.