Waiting for Justice
November 8, 2021
People do not give up their humanity because they migrate from one nation to another, yet, the U.S. has long weaponized perceived criminality—rooted in racism and xenophobia—to determine whether immigrants deserve fundamental human rights. And often, the U.S. has determined that they do not.
Jenn M. Jackson writes that U.S. commitment to “medical abuse and forced sterilizations depicts the complex nature of perceived criminality in this country.” This became abundantly clear last year. In September 2020, attacks on immigrants’ fundamental human rights by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made headlines. As Chris Walker reported, a whistleblower complaint about (DHS) alleged that “detainees at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia were medically neglected,” and “that an alarmingly large number of hysterectomies were being performed on detainees.” Hysterectomies—medical operations in which part or all of the uterus is removed from a patient’s body—were performed at Irwin County Detention Center, the ICE jail in question, at a usually high frequency. As one detainee stated, “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
Now, a year later, survivors of medical abuse at Irwin County Detention Center are still waiting for justice and restitution. Priyanka Bhatt notes that although House Resolution 1153 passed in October 2020, “condemning the invasive non-consensual procedures and calling for full cooperation into investigations of the detention center, there have been no congressional hearings and no update on the status of the original Office of Inspector General complaint filed.”
These survivors of state-sanctioned violence, Bhatt argues, “deserve justice in the form of closure of the Irwin County Detention Center along with all ICE prisons, immediate accountability for the violations that occurred in ICE custody, immigration relief and reparations.”
We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation join Bhatt in urging the United States to provide justice for these survivors of ICE abuse. The right to sexual freedom affirms the right of all people, to be free from violence, abuse, and coercion. We do not cede these rights because we migrate or because we are incarcerated. Human rights must be respected for all.