Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Nurse alleges neglect, forced surgeries at ICE center

Dawn Wooten, left, speaks at a Tuesday news conference in Atlanta. Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Amy

Nurse alleges neglect, forced surgeries at ICE center

The House Homeland Security Committee will investigate a whistleblower complaint that claims immigrants at a detention facility in Georgia underwent questionable hysterectomies, didn’t receive COVID-19 tests, and were kept in unsanitary conditions. The complaint was filed on behalf of several detained immigrants and Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked for three years at the Irwin County Detention Center.

What are the accusations? The 27-page complaint said employees and detainees at the center had little protective equipment, women who allegedly exhibited COVID-19 symptoms weren’t tested for weeks, and quarantine and medical units were filthy. Wooten said authorities continued to transfer people in and out of the facility amid the pandemic against government guidelines for detention facilities. Multiple detainees said women in the center frequently underwent hysterectomies: One woman said she met five others who had the surgery. Wooten said the women were usually taken to a particular gynecologist she called a “uterus collector.”

Dr. Mahendra Amin, who is not named in the complaint, told The Intercept he only performed “one or two hysterectomies” in the past three years. Dr. Ada Rivera, a medical director with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Service Corps, disputed the claims, saying the center approved only two surgeries with the detainees’ consent since 2018.

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report in Compassion on how a funding standoff left immigrants in limbo.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



Please wait while we load the latest comments...


Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.


One fact is that the doctor "not named in the complaint" is "a particular gynecologist outside the facility" (p. 18 in the complaint). Why is Project South not pursuing legal action against this "outside physician"?
Details of Ms. Wooten's concerns about the hysterectomies are buried deep within the complaint. One wonders if "smoke and mirrors" are being employed by Project South and company.