ICE whistleblower should be final straw for abolition but atrocities will likely continue

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

The U.S. has held a record number of migrant children in the past couple of years, according to AP News.

Project South is a Southern-based leadership development organization. Its fundamental aim is to combat human-rights violations and eliminate poverty and genocide within the United States.

On Sept. 14, the group published a whistleblower report containing severe allegations regarding the actions of a doctor in an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainment center in Ocilla, Georgia. In the wake of the report, outrage regarding the American federal law enforcement agency and the horrific behavior of those associated with it was reignited. So, is it reasonable to argue that detention facilities such as Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia are comparable to the concentrations camps of Nazi Germany?

The whistleblower in question was Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at the center. Supported by her team, Wooten came forward and broke her silence on the atrocities. Having primarily detailed the violations of COVID-19 protocols at Irwin, Project South’s report dropped the bombshell regarding the unwanted hysterectomy procedures on detainees undertaken by gynecologist Dr. Mahendra Amin.

“I became a whistleblower, now, I’m a target. But, I’ll take a target any day to do what’s right rather than just sit there and be part of something inhumane,” Wooten said.

The shrill of her whistle was shudderingly loud, abundantly clear and firmly placed the spotlight on ICE once more. As she has done previously, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voiced her disgust on the case, having now called for the abolition of ICE for years. In June 2019, Ocasio-Cortez told an Instagram Live audience that “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are — they are concentration camps.”

The connections are hardly unreasonable. In her complaint, Wooten detailed how she had spoken to several detained women who had unknowingly undergone the procedures having merely sought out a doctor for genuine medical aid. Part of Project South’s report explains how one woman said that “when I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

The images of the centers evoke what are supposed to be long-lost memories of the Holocaust, with the underfeeding and mistreatement of vast amounts of people “now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free,” as Ocasio-Cortez puts it. The images are heartbreaking.

Ocasio-Cortez has received much criticism for her comments but has rightly stood by them. The United States has launched an ever-growing assault on those trying to seek refuge on American shores — an assault that can justly be described as targeted human rights violations. The abhorrence of this particular case is as alarming as it is wearisome, since we have been here so many times before.

The purpose of ICE must be scrutinized now — beyond protests and cases of whistleblowing, although that is not to discount the bravery displayed by Wooten and so many others. Now is the time for action, but just as Ocasio-Cortez identified earlier this month, that positive move is unlikely to occur under the Trump administration.

Aside from the obvious blame to be apportioned with the individuals in question, a significant amount of culpability for the larger human rights issues regarding ICE lies at the door of the White House. Seemingly, everyone in a position of power to bring about change is in agreement, aside from the President himself. The top congressional Democrat and House speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted to the news by calling for an investigation into the center and labelling it “a staggering abuse of human rights.” 

In recent years, ICE has detained and deported a record number of people from the United States. The President has repeatedly threatened and carried out the dismissal of entire families; ICE’s hardline stance to immigration has become a criminal crisis by any reckoning. The truth is that it is hard to say what can be done to change the dire situation we have now reached. If one thing is for certain though, it’s that the bravery of Wooten to speak out against injustice and persecution is highly commendable.

Abolishing ICE has increasingly become a rallying cry for help. With this report bringing the issue to light once more, that rallying cry has reverberated to the point of a deafening need for fundamental change.