Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 17, 2020 / 10:30 am
This story has been updated.
The acting director of U.S. immigration services has ordered an expedited investigation into allegations that hysterectomies were performed on immigrant women in federal custody without their full consent.
On Monday, The Intercept reported a whistleblower complaint had been filed by several advocacy groups on behalf of a nurse at a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center for migrants in Georgia.
The complaint was filed with the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On Wednesday, National Review reported that Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ordered the investigation to be expedited and said he will be conducting a separate, parallel investigation. DHS staff confirmed the report to CNA on Thursday.
The nurse, Dawn Wooten, as well as several immigrant women, claimed that an apparently high rate of hysterectomies were performed on immigrant women while in ICE custody at Irwin County Detention Center, and that some of the women did not understand the procedure they were receiving. The center is operated by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections.
On Thursday, the Daily Caller reported that the doctor identified in the whistleblower report for allegedly conducting the hysterectomies—Dr. Mahendra Amin—was indicted in 2013 by federal prosecutors for Medicaid fraud.
According to the indictment, Amin was believed to be part owner of Irwin County hospital, where patients were given unnecessary medical procedures and the hospital in turn billed Medicare and Medicaid; Amin settled with prosecutors for $520,000 in 2015.
Cuccinelli’s investigation will include a Coast Guard doctor, a medical nurse from the deputy secretary’s office, and a lawyer in the DHS general counsel’s office, National Review reported.