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Non-consensual hysterectomies are a form of gender-based violence. The US has a long and sad history of forced sterilization, particularly of women of color, including enslaved Africans, Native women, Puerto Rican and Mexican women, people with disabilities, and others. We at Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network are deeply concerned by the recent reports of human rights violations and applaud the courage of the nurse at the immigration detention center for coming forward to shine a light on abuse in all its forms. We condemn racist, xenophobic, and sexist acts of violence, abuse, and neglect in immigration detention facilities.

Upon hearing the whistleblower complaint on massive health care abuses of immigrant women at the ICE detention center, compounded by the utter disregard for the increased health risks of the COVID pandemic, we were appalled but not surprised. Thanks to our original research and that of others, we have known for a long time that ICE detention facilities around the country, including those run by the private prison industry, are sites of abuse and trauma for many of the immigrant women and children who are held there. We have decried reports of officials raping women inside immigration detention cells, sexually abusing children, denying or ignoring requests for medical care from pregnant people to the point of causing miscarriagesfilming women as they showered, and regularly threatening people in their custody with deportation if they spoke out about the sexual abuse they experienced.  Many immigrant women and children have fled abuse and violence and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. At the very least, we should protect their basic human rights.

We call on the Inspector General and our elected officials in Congress to thoroughly investigate this whistleblower complaint and the many other complaints of abuse. We must hold the private detention facilities, DHS, ICE, and its subcontractors wholly accountable. In addition, the US should immediately provide alternatives to detention for immigrants in detention. The current system is failing immigrants, the people of the United States, and our fundamental principles.

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