For Immediate Release

November 16, 2022

Contacts:

Arianna Rosales, National Immigration Project, arianna@nipnlg.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations today heard testimony on the medical abuse and mistreatment of women held at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC). Panelists included medical professionals as well as Karina Cisneros Preciado, who was formerly detained at ICDC and who was part of the class action complaint that was filed on behalf of fourteen women who suffered medical abuse at the facility.

Today's hearing took place more than two years after a group of organizations first filed a whistleblower complaint in which Dawn Wooten, a nurse at ICDC, provided horrific accounts of invasive gynecological procedures performed without consent on women who were detained at the facility. The complaint also recounted numerous other non-consensual medical procedures and egregious neglect, as well as procedures being performed without access to a translator to obtain the patient's consent.

Following that complaint, in December 2020, a group of lawyers filed Oldaker v. Giles, a class action petition and complaint on behalf of fourteen women, and others similarly situated, who chose to come forward about the neglect, abuse, and retaliation they experienced. In total, more than 40 women filed sworn testimony in court – despite ICE's constant attempts to silence them.

In January 2021, the final known survivor of gynecological abuse at ICDC secured her freedom and in May 2021, the Biden administration announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would sever its ties with ICDC.

"I was detained even though I was the victim of domestic violence and had a four-month-old baby." said Karina Cisneros Preciado, who was formerly detained at Irwin County Detention Center and provided testimony today. "I was taken to a doctor who told me I had a cyst, gave me a Depo shot, and said I would need surgery if it didn't work. Nothing was explained to me. I felt like I had no control over my body."

"ICE officers and contractors must be held accountable for inhumane treatment," said Fatma Marouf, Professor of Law and Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Texas A&M School of Law. "The women at Irwin were needlessly detained in the middle of a pandemic, and then stripped of their power to make informed decisions about their medical care."

"The government must ensure that all individuals harmed through the widespread abuse and misconduct at Irwin County Detention Center are provided the support they need to heal and thrive. While the abuse documented at Irwin has been especially egregious, we know that immigrant lives are in danger anytime they are in ICE custody. Ultimately, we hope the Senate will take these testimonies as further proof that the U.S. immigration detention system is inherently abusive and flawed beyond repair," said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project.

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The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is a national non-profit organization that provides technical assistance and support to community-based immigrant organizations, legal practitioners, and all advocates seeking and working to advance the rights of noncitizens. NIPNLG utilizes impact litigation, advocacy, and public education to pursue its mission. Learn more at nipnlg.org. Follow NIPNLG on social media: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild on Facebook, @NIPNLG on Twitter and Instagram.