ICE frees potential witnesses in Georgia medical abuse case

Migrant Centers

Dawn Wooten, left, a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, speaks at a Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 news conference in Atlanta protesting conditions at the immigration jail. Wooten says authorities denied COVID-19 tests to immigrants, performed questionable hysterectomies and shredded records in a complaint filed to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. immigration authorities have released the last of nine detained women who were taken to see a rural Georgia gynecologist accused of performing unnecessary hysterectomies or other medical procedures, a lawyer for the women said Friday.

Dozens of women have accused Dr. Mahendra Amin of conducting procedures without their consent that were medically unnecessary and potentially endangered their ability to have children — allegations that sparked wide outrage. The women were detained at the privately run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.

Through his lawyer, Amin has denied any wrongdoing. A federal criminal investigation is underway.

Under the administration of former President Donald Trump, ICE deported at least six women last year who alleged misconduct by Amin and came within hours of deporting at least three others before their lawyers intervened.

“These women have supported each other, organized, and continually fought to bring the truth to light, despite every effort by the Trump administration to silence them,” said Elora Mukherjee, a professor at Columbia Law School and one of the lawyers working with the women.

Deportations of any potential witnesses are halted under court order, even after ICE tried to withdraw its support in court for an agreement originally reached by the Department of Justice.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in December, 41 women submitted statements about what they allege was misconduct by Amin. That lawsuit is pending. Many of the women had been deported or released from immigration custody after the allegations first emerged in September.

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency has previously denied deporting women to prevent them from testifying and pledged it would cooperate with all investigations. It has also said it prioritizes providing necessary medical care to all detainees.

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