Abolish ICE: After shocking allegations of mass hysterectomies in detention centers, calls to end dept grow
It is not just a Twitter hashtag, it actually a movement.The movement gained attention in June 2018, due to the controversy of the Trump administration family separation policy
On September 14, a nurse, Dawn Wooten, at a private immigration detention center in Georgia spoke about a number of dangerous medical practices at a US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. According to her statement, the government has ignored Covid-19 protocols and has actively performing mass hysterectomies on detained people, according to Refinery29.
Wooten worked at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) — which is operated by LaSalle Corrections — where she allegedly saw the company refuse to test detainees for Covid-19 as well as spoke to several people who had their uterus removed as part of an unnecessary hysterectomy procedure.
According to the official complaint lodged with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Wooten said that the facility was allegedly conducting hysterectomies on people who reported having heavy menstrual cycles or other more serious pain, but that “everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad".
Advocacy groups Government Accountability Project and Project South filed the complaint on Wooten’s behalf. The Intercept reached out to LaSalle and they said, “LaSalle Corrections is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in our care. We are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments.”
Lawandcrime.com reported that in a statement to them ICE said, “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.”
They added, “The agency maintains that the Irwin County Detention Center has been inspected multiple times, with and without warning, and that the facility has been found to be in compliance with Performance Based National Detention Standards.”
Soon Twitter also began discussing the matter and #AbolishICE started trending. One user said, “#AbolishICE This is not a hashtag or slogan. It’s rooted in the understanding that this rogue agency is less than 20 years old and must be dismantled and brought under civil structures - as it was before. Failing to end this sickening horror is a choice.”
Another alleged, “Disgusting, but not surprising. Of course they were sterilizing immigrant women at ICE facilities. They're excruciatingly racist. Do you think they *want* more brown people in this country?” Another commented, “We need to #AbolishIce now! They are forcing hysterectomy surgery on women.” One user said, “Absolutely horrifying #AbolishICE This is INHUMANE.”
#AbolishICE This is not a hashtag or slogan. It’s rooted in the understanding that this rogue agency is less than 20 years old and must be dismantled and brought under civil structures - as it was before. Failing to end this sickening horror is a choice. https://t.co/JwvyJkMuqK— Helen Gym (@HelenGymPHL) September 14, 2020
Disgusting, but not surprising. Of course they were sterilizing immigrant women at ICE facilities. They're excruciatingly racist. Do you think they *want* more brown people in this country?#AbolishICE #AbolishDHS https://t.co/0FLbh42xXr— Rachel McGonagill (@RachelMcGonagi1) September 14, 2020
What is Abolish ICE?
It is not just a Twitter hashtag, it actually a movement. ICE was created in 2003 as part of the newly formed DHS. The agency controversially expanded under Barack Obama, irking advocates for immigrants' rights, but the focus remained on the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were convicted of a crime. However, it was alleged that ICE had been seen to target individuals solely on the crime of having previously entered the country illegally.
The movement gained attention in June 2018 due to the Trump administration's controversial family separation policy. According to The Hill, writer and activist Sean McElwee is credited for creating the #AbolishICE hashtag, which helped to spread the idea. He told The Hill, "It is generally true that having a strong presence on Twitter will give it legs in the real world because people who influence real-world stuff are on Twitter." He first tweeted it in February 2017 and kept advocating ending the agency to his followers.
The highlight of the movement came when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, democratic socialist, defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), at the Democratic Party's primary election for New York's 14th congressional district. As she came into the spotlight she brought calls to abolish ICE into the national debate, reports The Hill. Right after her win New York's Kirsten Gillibrand became the first senator to announce her support for the agency's dismantling. Soon, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio joined the chorus, telling WNYC's Brian Lehrer, "ICE's time has come and gone."
"I don't think ICE today is working as intended," Gillibrand said Thursday night on CNN's Cuomo PrimeTime. "I believe that it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues." Recently, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.) also tweeted about a Refiner29 story with the headline: ICE Is Using COVID-19 As An Excuse To Raid Homes & Detain Undocumented People and said, "Now is the time to #AbolishICE."
Refinery29 reported that ICE is cracking down on undocumented immigrants, detaining hundreds of people in what they are calling “targeting criminal aliens". The agency is stating the coronavirus pandemic as the reason and is focused on people who are committing criminal activity and causing suffering during the pandemic. As per the story tweeted by Omar, as of September 8, ICE says it detained over 2,000 people during the sweep: 63 people in Colorado and Wyoming; 122 across Utah, Montana, Nevada, and Idaho; 83 in New York City; 300 people in the Los Angeles area; and 125 in Central and South Texas.