Sens. Warnock and Ossoff urge investigation into sexual assault allegations at private ICE prisonJuly 22, 2022
“In a letter sent on July 12, 2022, to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Liberties leadership, four women share details of alleged sexual assault by a male nurse at the detention facility,” they write to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “If true, these allegations would demonstrate an inhumane lack of care for these women and other detained persons at the facility. As the letter notes, this is not the first time concerns have been raised at Stewart Detention Center about its ability to protect individuals from sexual assault.”
The administrative complaint, filed by a host of human, civil, and immigrant rights organizations, said that when women complained about the nurse, they “were repeatedly threatened with retaliation, legal action, prison time and prolonged detention. Officers also withheld food from one woman to discourage participation during internal investigations.”
”What are you doing to ensure any individual at an ICE facility who comes forward with an allegation of abuse does not face retaliation or threats of retaliation?” Warnock and Ossoff ask. The complaint notes that while the nurse was moved after the allegations, it was to segregated units, “where people are isolated and vulnerable to further harm with no opportunity to seek help.” Since then, he’s been moved back to the general population. “Could you please clarify and provide an account of how such a series of transfers could occur?” Warnock and Ossoff ask.
“Georgia’s ICE facilities have already faced deeply concerning allegations of human rights violations, namely the abuse of women at the now-close Irwin County Detention Center,” they noted. “Many of the detained individuals who were at the Irwin Detention Center have, since its closure, been transferred to Stewart Detention Center.” DHS’ termination of Irwin’s contract came after immigrant women stepped forward to reveal rampant medical abuses by a disgraced gynecologist.
“At least five migrant women have been subjected to sexual assault at Stewart,” tweeted Project South Legal and Advocacy Director Azadeh Shahshahani. “This the same corporate-run ICE prison where eight people have died in the past few years, two by suicide. When is Biden going to shut down this horrid place?”
“I’m livid knowing that this man is still working at Stewart after having abused me and so many girls, even when the entire Stewart staff knew what happened,” said Viviana Doe, one of the women from the complaint. “It scares me so much to see Stewart staff cover up to allow the abuse of so many women, and that the employee who sexually harassed me is still there, exposed to hundreds of women.”
Irwin’s closure was to the credit of activists who’d been pushing for the move for years. “Many years of work on the ground made this happen,” advocates said at the time. But instead of releasing detained immigrants, which ICE officials have every ability to do, they were moved to Stewart. Take action above to help stop the continued abuse of immigrants and close down the Stewart facility.