On Monday, news broke that an ICE detention center in Georgia was performing mass hysterectomies on migrants without their consent. The allegations came from a nurse at the facility along with numerous detained migrants and left many people shocked.
However, the U.S. has a long history of forcing people – especially people of color – into unwanted sterilization, which is a human rights violation and a form of eugenics.
Of course, when it comes to undocumented immigrants, who are regularly referred to as “unwanted” “aliens” by the current president, it’s not so surprising that these practices went unreported for so long. One immigrant in the complaint put it best: “This place is not equipped for humans.”
An ICE nurse and several migrant women allege that a doctor is removing women’s reproductive systems without their consent.
According to the complaint filed Monday by Project South, an Atlanta-based non-profit, a high number of detained immigrant women held at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga., are receiving hysterectomies, as well as other “dangerously unhealthy practices” at the prison amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time at the detention center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed, said she and other nurses questioned among themselves why one unnamed gynecologist outside the facility was performing so many hysterectomies on detainees referred to him for additional medical treatment. She alleged about one doctor that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy,” and that he removed the wrong ovary from one young detainee.
“We’ve questioned among ourselves like, goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his speciality, he’s the uterus collector,” Ms. Wooten said in the complaint.
One detainee, interviewed by Project South, likened the center to “an experimental concentration camp,” adding: “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
“If it wasn’t for my faith in God, I think I would have gone insane and just break down and probably gone as far as hurting myself,” the woman said. “There are a lot of people here who end up in medical trying to kill themselves because of how crazy it is.”
The same prison has also come under fire for its medical practices amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Project South said the complaint alleges “jarring accounts from detained immigrants and Wooten regarding the deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and absence of adequate protection against Covid-19.”
It summarizes the disclosures Dawn Wooten made to the DHS’s watchdog, and quotes unidentified detainees extensively. Covid-19 complaints included staff refusing to test symptomatic detainees, failing to isolate suspected cases, and not encouraging social-distancing practices.
For their part, ICE says to take the reports with skepticism.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative released this statement to Law & Crime Newsin response to the complaint: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results. That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”
Women in ICE custody have long been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.
Immigrant detention centers have long been accused of subpar medical care. However, the issue has become even worse amid the pandemic. The report filed by Project South describes how migrants are forced to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions and even thrown into solitary if they advocate for basic human rights. But even before the outbreak, immigrant women’s bodies have always been the target of medical malpractice and cruelty.
ICE has allegedly denied treatment to detained women with cancer, brain tumors, and breast cysts, and it has a history of policing their bodies. The Trump administration has been accused of tracking migrant girls’ periods to prevent them from getting abortions, introduced a policy to deny pregnant women visitor visas, and literally ripped mothers apart from their babies during family separation. Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, said women held at ICDC have said they are not given clean underwear which leads to infections and rashes.
She said detained women, who are mostly Black and brown, are in extremely vulnerable situations in which “they have no control over their bodies.” “It’s a very exploitative situation,” Shahshahani said of the hysterectomies. “There does not seem to be informed consent … they had pretty much no say in what exactly took place.”
We don’t always think of mental illness like anxiety and depression as an exterior problem. Because it is so internal, we often think the signs of mental illness are easy to miss and as a result, should be covered up. Still, so many of us have experienced mental illness to the point of being incapable of dragging ourselves out of bed or heading out for plans with friends.
Women of Reddit are sharing how mental health has affected their work and professional lives.
Check them out below!
“I tend to self-isolate when I’m in a deeper depression. I don’t accept invitations to do things with friends. I’m chronically single, so there is no SO for it to affect.
Mostly throughout all my depressions, I’ve still been able to make it to work. That would be all I could do in a day. Get up, go to work. Come home and sleep. Most of the time I could keep up the facade at work of being a chatty outgoing person. When I’d have my bad days, I’d just let my coworkers know I wasn’t feeling well so I probably would be really quiet those days. They’d assume it was a cold or headache, but really it was my depression weighing me down. I would occasionally take mental health days off work, but those were only when I knew I wasn’t scheduled for much and it wouldn’t negatively affect my coworkers much. I’d never do it on a busy day or if I was scheduled in something that it would be difficult to replace me in.
At my current job, I don’t have to interact with others as much. I am in an office environment now (I worked in a lab before), but sit at my desk/cube with headphones on listening to podcasts while I do my work all day. I’ve had some bad depression days, but I still come into work and just count the hours down until I can go back home and crawl into bed. Bed in my happy place.”- MadtownMaven
“ I have tons of vacation time and it feels like weirdly I take “too many” mental health days however I guess former jobs made it hard for me to “call in sick” just because ‘depressed’.
I’ve lost friends over my isolation ways. And a partner. Yay.”- duckduck_goose
“That was exactly how I felt right before I decided I needed help. It got to the point where I couldn’t leave and just called the house to beg someone to bring me a drink or food. hugs That being said, sometimes you just got to do what makes you happiest. And if that is your bed, you probably picked a good cozy spot.”- ktwat
“I’m an aspie. In my first two relationships, I was taken advantage of, taken for granted and left out of my social activities due to the fact that my interaction with others was often seen as “steely” or “intimidating” (unintentionally though). I found it difficult to get my feelings across or that my partners had very little time for me in terms of discussing interactional problems or even just simple things like my past. I was cheated on in both of those relationships, probably regularly, because any social training I have didn’t include how to interact with a romantic partner. I think I’m getting the grips of it now though and in my third long-term relationship. It helps that I am completely head-over-heels in love with the guy but also, he treats me with respect, points out when i do something wrong or say something inappropriate and I feel like I’ve learned a lot more over the past year in my relationship with him that I have in the past 30 years from therapists or other people. I’ve stopped all forms of medication now, and stick to a fairly strict routine which keeps me ‘in check.’”- Gamerdomme
“You know how when someone has PTSD in a movie they start drinking a shit ton and possibly sleeping around and denying anything is wrong with them? Yeah, that was me, all day. I wasn’t really in denial that I was fucked up, but I maintained it would just go away on its own and I could “work through it”. Ha.
I actually didn’t experience too many issues in friendships, I think I was pretty self-aware of when I was dumping my problems on people, and I have a lot of friends, so when one person was getting overloaded I could go to someone else. I’m also a good listener myself, so when I was dumping on people I made it clear I would return the favor any time, which most took me up on at some point. Focusing on other people was a great break from my own problems. I was convinced telling my parents about my issues would make them “real”, though, and I was convinced I was letting them down by having problems, so I lied my face off to them.”- SpermJackalope
“When I was depressed I made the mistake of relying on my friends and partners as therapists rather than friends and partners, and some of those relationships imploded as a result. I feel really, really bad about it now, but at the time I wasn’t in the head space to think about what I was doing. It got better when I got an actual therapist.
I pulled away from a lot of people too. I didn’t want my parents to worry, so I never told them it was so bad I was suicidal. Talking to them was exhausting because I was at university and wanted them to believe the experience they were paying for was the most amazing of my life, when in reality I was sleeping 20-22hrs a day. Eventually I couldn’t keep it up anymore and broke down in the middle of a restaurant and told them I was really struggling. To their credit they instantly had me in to see doctors, they did all kinds of research, they became cheerleaders … What I had needed all along if I’d let them know. There was one rough patch where my dad threatened to have me committed but I think, looking back, that it came from a place of fear for him worrying he might actually have to hospitalize his daughter for her own good. I can’t imagine how hard that was for him.
I’m better now. I have friends and my family and an awesome SO. It took me almost two years after I got better to really relearn who I was apart from my depression but the people in my life have been really patient about it. They’re generally understanding when I feel like I’m backsliding but I’ve learned to cope better than dumping all my problems on them as well.”-snapkangaroo
“I have an anxiety/panic disorder and sometimes depression. It really affected my schoolwork back in 2009. I went on academic probation. I was afraid to leave my apartment. Etc etc. Then I started getting help. Three semesters later I made Dean’s List. My anxiety has been up and down since then, but I’ve never let it affect my work again.
A year ago on the 15th of February I broke up with my most recent ex-boyfriend because of it. I had been open and honest with him in a way I had avoided before because I was scared of the stigma. He seemed receptive and empathetic. Then one day I came home, complained about a panic attack, and he laughed at me. He called me ridiculous. All of a sudden I realized what a tremendous asshole he was and broke up with him.
It’s hard for me to know the line. Who can I talk to about this? Who can I trust? My mom, my best friend, and my sisters I can trust. Anybody else? I don’t know. When can/should I start talking to the person I’m dating about it? Will he laugh me out of the room? Will he pretend to care for months and then laugh me out of the room?
I’m doing really well right now. I haven’t had a panic attack in months. My anxiety has been at an all time low. I’m hoping this is actually me getting better rather than me having a good spell. But I don’t think so. It’ll come back. It always comes back. And that’s part of the disorder. Being so afraid of the panic that it causes me to avoid thing and panic about things and let it control me. If it does come back, I can beat it again. I have in the past, I can in the future.”- BagsOfMoney
“It’s really inspiring to hear how you hauled yourself back up! Have you had to have any of those conversations lately? How does it differ to talk to family vs. friends vs. romantic interests about it?”- ktwat
“I have severe anxiety and depression. This is not your normal “sometimes I feel sad” shit. Also, I’m a hypochondriac and neurotic. What I’ve seen is that people need a lot of patience for me. They need the ability to listen to me as I coach them through my anxiety attacks (“don’t touch me; okay now I need a hug; give me space; I need water” etc.) and they need the ability to distract me when I get into neurotic/hypochondriac fits of anxiety. When I’m depressed, they need to understand it’s not because of them. This is always tricky to convince someone of.”- giottoblue
“One of my boyfriends didn’t “believe” in mental illness, and decided that therefore I shouldn’t be taking my medication for anxiety/ADD because “I shouldn’t be dependent on a chemical” and “it was all in my head and I could just feel better if I wanted to.” That relationship did not last, and that was a big part of that. That’s a thing that does actually happen, and was pretty harmful for me (although that’s part of the larger scheme of that relationship which tended to be rather manipulative, which is a whole other can of worms. Feel free to pm me if you’ve got any questions about it though.)
My current boyfriend is very understanding and supportive of that, recognizes that sometimes I need my space and that sometimes there are things that won’t just immediately “get better” and he’s really great about wanting to see me happy and calm and if my life gets super stressful (which happens somewhat frequently as a grad student) he does whatever he can to make it better! But he might be extra great about it.
I haven’t ever had anybody ever ask to have some of my meds (some of them being controlled substances that people pay a lot for on the street) with any seriousness, but I usually include that in my opening spiel about the problem. I’ve also had some experiences where people are talking about getting them from a doctor when clearly they don’t have a real problem (like, “yeah I went to my doctor and told him I can’t concentrate and now he gave me meds to take during finals…” sort of like that. I don’t mean that I’m an expert in when people do/don’t have a mental disorder. This is kind of like people who clearly smoke a lot of pot saying they suddenly go to their doctor to get it when before they had no indication of a problem. I’m trying to word this well and it really isn’t working but I hope that makes sense). In those situations I tend to just not say anything because it’s not something I tell a lot of people.”-all_that_glitters_
“I’m now in recovery for an Eating Disorder and have had a massive battle with anxiety.
Personally I’ve been able to see who my real friends are. My ED took over my life slowly but surely and as I started on the slope a few friends just seemed to distance themselves and then stop talking to me. I’ve got a smaller group of friends now but I trust all of them and wouldn’t change a thing.
The other aspect that was affected personally was my relationship with my boyfriend, he stood by me every single moment and helped me through basically every single panic attack/purge etc. He was my rock, but it almost split us up. During recovery I made a stupid mistake as my self destructive part took over, however, we made it through. I think the hardest part for him was that he just couldn’t see my train thought, he didn’t understand how my skewed logic made so much sense to me. There are still knock ons from this time as my libido dropped during my ED and I still find it really hard to initiate any sort of sex. I still have a poor view of what I look like, which is worse when stressed, but we continue to work through it.
Professionally, ED and then recovery has ruined my job. My boss has been pretty unreasonable with some aspects of it and continues to stress me out. She also told me during recovery that I wasn’t ‘crazy crazy any more, just girl crazy’. Also, any time something is wrong with me she automatically assumes its an ED issue and asks if I’m eating. It’s horrible to be constantly probed over something that you are trying to overcome/move past.”-marty1411
“The stigma is terrifying to me. I can’t imagine any other time when people find it okay to berate someone over an illness. Your boss sounds like she is asking for an HR conversation. And what in the everloving fuck does “girl crazy” mean? Like “your invalid problems are even more invalid because they are female invalid problems”? Bullshit. Every element of it is valid whether someone chooses to acknowledge it or not. I am glad you have such great support, though. Your SO rocks! Tell him some random chick on the internet loves and respects his patience and strength.”-ktwat
“My eating disorder has affected every aspect of my life since I was 13. I am in recovery now, but for over a decade, I was in and out of inpatient/residential treatment centers.
Professionally and academically, this affected me because I had to leave school and work at very inopportune times. It took me 7 years to graduate college because I had to take 5 medical withdrawals. It was an embarrassing reason to leave, so I usually wouldn’t tell any of my friends. One day, I would just not show up and stop responding to texts. Then when I would return, I would say I was just sick. I told my close friends, but it wasn’t something I wanted to broadcast.
All of my relationships have ended because of my eating disorder, whether indirectly or directly. I remember a situation with an ex where he wouldn’t let me purge. I became a different person. I screamed, kicked, cried, bit, punched, and hit him because he wouldn’t let me go. I called him extremely hurtful names. I didn’t care about anything in that moment except getting to the bathroom to shove me fingers down my throat. Eventually, he gave up and let me go. I ran to the bathroom and threw up. When I came out of the bathroom, I was so embarrassed.
My boyfriends do not just date me; they also date my eating disorder. I went to Germany with an ex, and he ended up calling his mom asking her to get me an early plane ride home because he couldn’t handle my eating disorder. I didn’t experience the trip while I was there because I only cared about food. I ended up convincing him to stay, but our relationship was never the same. We broke up very soon after that. When I climbed the castle stairs in Germany, I only wondered how many calories I was burning. I didn’t care about the beauty of the castles or the country.
Therapy has affected me in an extremely positive way. I have learned amazing communication skills by being in therapy for 12 years. I know how to effectively relay my feelings in every situation. I learned that it’s okay for me to have needs and that they may not always be met. I would recommend therapy to anyone. It is not just something for “crazy people.” It can be beneficial for anyone.”- toritxtornado
“I have bipolar II and generalized anxiety disorder. I also am currently dealing with post-partum depression.
I am on medication, but I am not in therapy right now. I’m doing pretty well for the most part.
I have a lot of problems with controlling emotions in general. But anger is the most difficult. It has almost destroyed my relationship with my husband a few times over.
He used to have a difficult time understanding that my disorders were causing my erratic behavior. He didn’t understand why I could just be happy and calm like him. He even talked me into quitting all of my medication early in our relationship. It was awful and I was having a lot of awful problems for it.
These days, especially after the birth of our first child and the post-partum psychosis that followed (complete with hallucinations and paranoid delusions) put things into perspective for him. He understands now that my mind just isn’t working properly in regards to mood regulation and perception.
I have lost friends due to it, mostly because of my rage problems where I would tell them off in the most cruel, painful, and humiliating way possible if I felt slighted or insulted by them. I don’t do that anymore, thank god.
In the past, a lot of my medications killed my libido. Right now I am on a good medication combination, my libido feels fine, maybe slightly lower, but I don’t have the problems reaching orgasm that I did with other drugs.
It hasn’t really effected my work much since I manage my disorders well with meds.
It did become a problems during my second pregnancy. I tried quitting all of my medication and started having back to back panic attacks. At work. I remember a few times getting panicked and just blacking out and wandering around the town I work in. That stopped happening when my OBGYN put me on wellbutrin.
I used to see a psychiatrist for my medication. It was expensive and felt creepy because he would analyze my every thought and movement. I see a family doctor right now and he has done a better job of finding good drugs for me than any of the psychiatrists ever did.
But it’s definitely not something I can be open about. I just don’t bring it up unless I know someone very well.”- antisocialmedic
As recently as last month more than 5,000 children languished in jail-like conditions inside U.S. Border Patrol facilities, often for longer than the 72-hour limit set by federal law. But, according to the Biden administration, that number has dropped by 84% as the agencies charged with migrant detention make significant progress.
Questions remain, however, about where these children are being sent to instead and why there remains a need for jail-like conditions in the first place.
The number of kids in jail-like Border Patrol facilities drops 84% compared to March.
The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official. As of last Wednesday, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28, the official told CNN.
The average time that kids are in CBP custody is now 28 hours, compared to 133 hours on March 28, the official said, a nearly 80% reduction in time spent in Border Patrol detention.
In an interview with NBC News this week, Biden suggested that the situation with unaccompanied children is now under control, saying, “It’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control,” and touted “significant change in the circumstances for children to and at the border.”
In recent weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the care of migrant children, has opened up a string of temporary shelters to accommodate minors. That’s allowed for an increasing number of children being transferred out of border facilities to spaces equipped to care for them at a quicker pace.
The drop in children in custody is a welcome sign given the conditions they faced.
In some cases, children were alternating schedules to make space for one another in confined facilities and taking turns showering, often going days without one, while others hadn’t seen the sunlight in days.
While the administration works to address root causes of migration, it’s also had to contend with growing numbers of children in government custody. As of April 27, there were more than 22,276 children in HHS care, according to government data.
Biden on NBC again warned Central American parents against sending children to the US.”Do not send your kids, period. They’re most — they’re in jeopardy going– making that thousand-mile trek,” Biden said. “And so what we’re doing now is we’re going back to those countries in question where most of it’s coming from and saying, ‘Look, you can apply from your country. You don’t have to make this trek.”
The shift in strategy comes as a new poll shows Americans overwhelmingly support new immigration policy.
A vast majority of Americans approve of the idea of engaging countries abroad to address the causes of migration before it happens, according to a new nationwide poll released Thursday.
Pollster Civiqs found that 85 percent of survey respondents agreed that the United States needs to engage with other countries to address migration patterns.
On a partisan basis, 86 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans, as well as 81 percent of independents, agree with that approach, according to Civiqs, which conducted the poll for Immigration Hub, a progressive immigration advocacy group.
The poll found that 57 percent of Americans accept illegal immigration when the immigrants are fleeing violence in their home countries.
That support is lower for undocumented immigrants who come for other reasons; 46 percent agree with immigrants arriving illegally to escape poverty or hunger, while 36 percent do if the migrants are seeking to reunite with family members, and 31 percent do if the migrants are looking for jobs in the United States.