FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Chairwoman of the Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations Subcommittee Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), and Chairman of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding health and safety standards at DHS detention facilities after the Committees received troubling new information during their joint investigation into the mistreatment of migrants detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia during the Trump Administration.
The Committees’ investigation, which began in September 2020, examined allegations of medical neglect, unsanitary conditions, and abuse at ICDC. The Committees investigated, among other things, allegedly unwanted medical treatment provided by Dr. Mahendra Amin to female detainees at the facility. The Committees sent joint requests for records to ICE and LaSalle Corrections—the private contractor that ran the detention center—to assess the allegations. After LaSalle refused to produce these documents voluntarily, the Committee on Homeland Security issued a subpoena to compel production. LaSalle eventually produced records to the Committees, and ICDC was shut down by DHS in May 2021.
An independent medical review of these records found that Dr. Amin did not meet acceptable standards of care. These concerns were so serious that the reviewing expert submitted a letter of complaint to the Georgia Composite Medical Board, asserting: “[Dr. Amin] was not competent and simply did the same evaluation and treatment on most patients because that is what he knew how to do, and/or he did tests and treatments that generated a significant amount of reimbursement without benefiting most patients.”
The Chairs wrote to share their findings with DHS and to request a briefing on any internal review or referrals DHS has made related to Dr. Amin’s conduct, and on the steps DHS is taking to ensure that migrants receive appropriate medical care while in DHS custody.
“[W]e are concerned that Dr. Amin may have been performing unnecessary surgical procedures to defraud DHS and the Federal government without consequences,” wrote the Chairs. “We are also concerned that people at other detention facilities may be receiving similarly inappropriate or inadequate medical treatment. DHS has thus far identified only two detention facilities as unsuitable for housing ICE detainees after more than six months of review, even though the Committees’ investigations have identified serious concerns about many others.”
The Chairs also wrote to the Georgia Composite Medical Board to refer the matter for investigation.
Previously, in September 2020, the Committee on Homeland Security released a Majority Staff Report entitled “ICE Detention Facilities: Failing to Meet Basic Standards of Care,” which highlighted concerning issues at facilities, including deficiencies in the medical, dental, and mental health care available to migrants held in ICE detention. Similarly, in September 2020, the Oversight Committee released a Majority Staff Report entitled “The Trump Administration’s Mistreatment of Detained Immigrants: Deaths and Deficient Medical Care by For-Profit Detention Contractors,” which highlighted troubling findings at ICDC and other DHS facilities.
Barragán first investigated the allegations at the Irwin County Detention Center as part of a delegation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in September 2020.