US commits human rights atrocities at ICE detention facility

Dawn Wooten, a nurse employed at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, recently lodged a formal complaint revealing the appalling treatment of female detainees.

Appalling is an understatement — Wooten alleges that ICE doctors have been performing unwarranted and nonconsensual hysterectomies on female immigrants held at the facility.

This news should be absolutely horrifying to anyone who has the slightest bit of empathy — forced sterilization is literally a form of genocide, as defined by the International Criminal Court.  It cannot be ignored that these medical crimes against humanity specifically target female immigrants, meaning that the motivation for such is doubly horrifying in that it is a form of violence that is specifically patriarchial and xenophobic.

Restricting the ability of an individual to reproduce is a eugenic practice — one that was employed in Nazi Germany. Although the United States is no stranger to genocide, many people like to ignore our country’s crimes against humanity and sweep them under the rug in the name of patriotism. Germany, on the other hand, has had a long history of making efforts to show genuine contrition for their actions during World War II.

The United States has been nothing but cowardly, obscuring our history of hate crimes by rewriting the history books to make us out as heroes. It has to stop. It should never have happened and it surely should not continue in the face of the femicide of vulnerable peoples.

Underlying the sheer horror of forcing female migrants to undergo unnecessary, unwanted medical procedures to prevent their reproduction is the enormous irony of such actions being carried out by an administration that claims to be pro-life.

If it was not already clear enough, Irwin County Detention Center should now be undeniable proof that the Trump administration does not actually care about protecting the sanctity of human life, but rather the sanctity of protecting white American lives and white social and political hegemony.

To revoke the right of female migrants to reproduce is to revoke their bodily autonomy, their right to freely make decisions regarding family planning and their right to exist in the United States with fully functional female reproductive systems. The female body is no place for male legislators, doctors and their opinions.

The fact that these forced sterilizations are occurring should be grounds for global outrage, but that outrage cannot and will not come with media coverage. At least within my own curated media spheres, the only platform on which I have seen any sustained condemnation of these atrocities is on Twitter. Were I not a regular Twitter user, I may have never even known this was happening. That is terrifying, and we should be asking ourselves why.

Of course, part of this apparent lack of media coverage is, as I said, a result of my choices in media consumption. Still, I refuse to chalk it up to that alone, especially because in today’s world, it is increasingly common for people to turn to social media for global news. We must also recognize that the group of people who are affected — migrant people with female anatomy — have been under attack from the very conception of the Trump administration. We all should be able to see by now that Trump’s attitudes towards women and immigrants are violent and hateful.

Please note that my use of the word “women” in the previous statement serves to include the discrimination experienced by all people who are perceived as women, whether or not they identify as women. I do not support the likening of female reproductive organs to womanhood.

It should also be noted that Dawn Wooten, the Black licensed practical nurse responsible for bringing these disgusting injustices to light, deserves recognition for her bravery and willingness to potentially jeopardize her own safety to protect migrants who are at risk for suffering from the endlessly cruel wrath of ICE. Considering how the United States is an environment in which Black women are constantly under the threat of violence and death for their mere existence, I would literally give her a Nobel Peace Prize for her decision to speak out against these cruelties.

As the presidential election draws nearer, we must not forget how Trump and his administration have continuously and actively worked to restrict the rights of migrant people, and fatally endangered many in the process. I know that keeping up with every human rights violation the United States commits is, unfortunately, too difficult — I know I surely am not capable of it. The overwhelming details of global injustices are far too many to permanently keep within our brains, but I think it is of primary importance that we keep the emotional responses the news evokes within us at the forefront of our hearts.

My heart goes out to every migrant who is detained in the process of trying to come to the United States in the hopes of making a better life for themselves, as well as those who are not detained but must live in haunting awareness that these stories could be theirs. My heart goes out to every undocumented person who is forced to live in fear of deportation, of separation from their families and all of the other tangible threats that come with conservative immigration policy.

My heart goes out even to documented immigrants who, although not necessarily facing the same potential threats at undocumented people, may feel as though their rights are in danger because of Trump’s malicious disregard for the safety and well-being of anyone whose home country is, for whatever reason, an unsafe or undesirable environment.

Beyond empathy, I also urge everyone to allow themselves to let justified anger into your heart, as this anger is a necessary element of the social pressure required to precipitate tangible political change that could significantly ameliorate the lives of those who wish to come live in this country. Here, that translates directly to this: abolish ICE.